Workers Independent News v. FCC: Down the Rabbit Hole

Last week’s post about the Federal Communications Commission’s backhanded ruling on the legitimacy of Workers Independent News has left a lot of folks scratching their heads—but, as one legal scholar-colleague told me yesterday, "the more I think about it, the angrier I get."

That’s because the FCC’s offhanded beef with Workers Independent News is not just some bureaucratic’s a bona-fide, no-shit free speech issue, in that the FCC has made a historically unprecedented determination about just what is and is not journalism, and it’s leading to a censorship of sorts on WIN itself. Read More

The FCC as News Police: Right Hand, Meet Left Hand

Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai is feeling his oats. After conducting a calculated and ideologically-driven campaign against a proposed FCC study of the practices and processes of journalism, the agency capitulated, killing the idea entirely. Pai reveled in his accomplishment: "In our country, the government does not tell the people what information they need. Instead, news outlets and the American public decide that for themselves."

Yet the FCC is in fact defining what news is, and it did so just last month—before Pai went on the warpath about the FCC as "newsroom police." Read More

Regulatory Innuendo as Stalking Horse?

Never before has an FCC enforcement action hit so close to home.

This week, the agency issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for $44,000 to Chicago radio station WLS-AM. The proposed penalty stems from a complaint filed by a listener regarding news programming aired by WLS that originated with the Madison-based Workers Independent News (WIN) service. The FCC accuses WLS of violating its rules by failing to disclose that it was paid for running WIN newscasts.

(Disclosure: I was one of WIN’s founding producers, helping to develop and launch the service between 2001-2004.) Read More

The Karmic Circle of WIN(S)

Fresh from a skirmish with an overzealous state lawmaker on a liberal media witch-hunt, the Workers Independent News (Service) got a surprising bit of good news recently. WIN(S) can now be heard in New York on 1010 WINS-AM.

This is quite a turn of events, for three years ago the owner of 1010 WINS, the CBS Corporation (née Infinity Broadcasting, formerly a subsidiary of Viacom) threatened to sue WIN(S) not once, but twice, on spurious claims of trademark infringement. Read More

Liberal Media Witch-Hunting in Wisconsin

Over the last couple of weeks friends in Madison have been forwarding me various correspondence between folks at the University of Wisconsin, the UW-Extension, the office of state representative Stephen Nass (R-Whitewater), and the syndicated labor radio news service I helped create, the Workers Independent News Service (WIN(S)).

Rep. Nass, who is chair of the State Assembly’s Committee on Labor and also sits on various committees dealing with education issues and the UW System, apparently has a problem with WIN(S) and the fact that it reports business news from the perspective of working people. Read More