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October 27, 2011 06:27 PM UTC

FCC rejects complaint against CO Springs talk-radio host Lakey

  • 10 Comments
  • by: Jason Salzman

(Interesting followup.   – promoted by ProgressiveCowgirl)

After reading on BigMedia.org that KVOR talk-show host Jimmy Lakey compared Michelle Obama to Chewbacca, a Colorado resident filed a complaint with Federal Communications Commission, claiming that Lakey’s behavior was “racially motivated and politically biased.”

In a letter last week, the FCC responded to the complaint. (FCC comments after the jump)

The FCC is barred by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution from trying to prevent the broadcast of any point of view, no matter how unpopular or distasteful that point of view may be to most people. Consumers often complain that certain broadcasts are “un-American,” too violent, or ridicule or demean certain groups because of their race, gender, religion or nationality. Such views that do not rise to the level of  a “clear and present danger of substantive evil” are protected by the First Amendment. Expressions that are obscene, however, are not protected. Similarly, expressions that are indecent or profane may be restricted to prevent their broadcast to children. FCC rules prohibit indecent or profane broadcasts between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. The Communications Act prevents the FCC from censoring broadcast material, in most cases, and from taking any action that would interfere with freedom of speech.

Obscenity is defined as any material that depicts or describes, in patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable law; and lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

Well, it’s clear that Lakey’s comments about Michelle Obama lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

But I know that’s irrelevant and besides the point, which is that the FCC was right to deny this complaint. I wouldn’t want Lakey or anyone shut up for comparing a political figure to Chewbacca or a character in Planet of the Apes. Or for advocating the death of all Iranians.

But I don’t think I’m wasting my time, and the person who filed the FCC complaint against Lakey wasn’t wasting his time either, trying to make more people aware of these comments.

This includes Lakey’s bosses at Cumulus Media, Inc, the radio conglomerate that owns KVOR, 470 AM, in Colorado Springs, and broadcasts the Jimmy Lakey Show Sundays from 9 a.m. to noon. They should know about what he’s saying, in case they want to fire him or scold him somehow.

And of course we can complain to KVOR directly or stop listening to Lakey, which could set an example that might spread to the point where he can scream and laugh to himself on the radio.

Trouble is, it’s more likely that spotlighting Lakey has the opposite effect, bringing him more listeners. But ignoring hate speech doesn’t feel like the right thing to do.

Comments

10 thoughts on “FCC rejects complaint against CO Springs talk-radio host Lakey

  1. Another promotion by PC for purely ideological reasons.

    It is not the FCC’s job to censor the airwaves.  The FCC’s job is to enforce federal laws and agency rules.

    Are they transmitting too much power?  Are they transmitting off frequency?  Are they willfully interfering with other stations?  If the answer to any of the above is “yes,” then the FCC will intervene.

    If the only problem is that somebody disagrees with what is said, then the FCC will quite properly stay out of the discussion.

    The time to attack any station is when their license comes up for renewal.  And only if they are not complying with the terms of their license.

    Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that is how the system works.

    1. Unfortunately Go Raiders never wrote those promised moderate Republican diaries, so I have a seriously low supply of diaries that don’t agree with my ideology and that are remotely coherent to promote. If any conservatives who don’t write like ArapaGOP want to diary here, I’ll probably promote them.

      Jason’s “beat” around here is media accountability. FCC complaints about something protected by free speech aren’t the right way to achieve that, as he says in this diary, but I think the wording of the FCC communication is interesting. This is probably old and boring to you because you’ve seen this stuff before, but I hadn’t and I found it interesting. I’ve filed an FCC complaint (not about obscenity) before and got back a form letter thanking me for my report, but no followup beyond that.  

    2. That Elizabeth Warren/Alan Grayson vid would be FP’d. Those two are pretty much my favorite non-Coloradoan politicians. But it’s just a video with no context, so no FP.

    3. The FCC is the signal cop and little else.

      It used to do more, as in requiring locally-produced news and special event community programming. That was done away with under the Reagan administration.

      Ever since, it has regulated signals and signal strength, so going after the advertisers is the only way to go.

      Cumulus does react to money, and money only.

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