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Clergue Jones <[log in to unmask]> writes:
>Yes, I have to agree that the Fairness Doctrine failed in large
>measure. But it was an effort to stall this appalling gravitation of
>all media towards the lowest common denominator. What would you
>suggest to be the effective approach?
 
        Firstly, I don't believe that there is a "gravitation of
all media towards the lowest common denominator."  I do think that
as any particular medium becomes more popular, more lowest common
denominator content will be produced.  However, I also believe
that other, more enlightened content will be produced, unless
that production, or its distribution, is hindered.  In the case
of broadcast media, I'd argue that content-based regulations which
govern the allotment of spectrum have had precisely the effect of
limiting the distribution of more diverse content.  However, in
the case of print, a mostly content-neutral distribution system
has allowed a diverse range of material to be produced.  Sure,
there is a lot of printed junk, but along with the junk we have
some content of real value.  In the broadcast media, we're just
left with the junk.
        I would recommend that we extend the First Amendment's
protections against content regulation (like the "Fairness Doctrine")
to the digital media.  This would ensure that enlightened content
could be produced, while acknowledging that lowest common denominator
content will also be produced.  Then, we should ensure that this
content is given non-discriminatory access to distribution channels:
providers of data conduits should be required to transmit data
at prices without regard to content.  Along with this obligation,
data conduit providers should be given the status of common carriers;
they will not be held liable for content transmitted over their
conduit.  This will ensure content-neutral distribution channels
for digital data, in much the same way that the phone company or
the postal service provides data carriage at content-neutral prices.
 
Michael Chui
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