Leave it to Scott Fybush to get me thinking this early in the morning…
47 CFR 73.1217 – No licensee or permittee of any broadcast station shall broadcast false information concerning a crime or a catastrophe if:
(a) The licensee knows this information is false;
(b) It is forseeable that broadcast of the information will cause substantial public harm, and
(c) Broadcast of the information does in fact directly cause substantial public harm.
For my non-radio readers, you’re probably just happy with waking up this morning. The quoted law above means nothing to you. For the radio folks, like myself and the aforementioned Fybush, this means a lot. It’s the FCC rule that states that radio station owners can’t yell “Fire” in a crowded theater. Did Harold Camping do that in preaching that the end of the world was taking place?
I’m not here to debate whether or not he read the Bible right, wrong or otherwise. My issue is with the dozens of stations owned by Camping’s company that provides ZERO local, public service to their respective communities. I’m not battling religion, and I’m not trying to stifle Camping’s free speech – I am concerned that there are dozens of local and regional radio stations that are being used for nothing more than repeater stations for his Family Radio network, with little or no concern for the communities they “serve”, especially after yelling “end of the world” in said crowded theater known as radio.
If the FCC could effectively go after Camping for fraud (such as preparing radio station logs and programming for the next two weeks and selling advertising after May 22, despite the fact that he predicted the world was going to end), then I say do it.
Let’s look into the definition of fraud:
noun /frôd/ frauds, plural
Wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain
he was convicted of fraud
prosecutions for social security frauds
A person or thing intended to deceive others, typically by unjustifiably claiming or being credited with accomplishments or qualities.
Mediums exposed as tricksters and frauds
Is Camping a fraud? No. He’s a believer. Plain and simple. But, did he and his stations commit fraud while continuing to program his radio stations past Sunday the 22nd? If that involves advertising and collecting money from said advertisers, or collecting donations from listeners then I’d say there’s a potential case of fraud on tap. Mind you, Camping owns stations across the country.
Let’s be realistic – do I think this is going to happen? No. Would I like to see it happen? If it would cause Camping to have to divest of some of their stations and get them in the hands of local owners who want to do truly local radio – absolutely. Unfortunately, it’s probably not going to happen, much to my dismay.
So now, back to life as we know it, already in progress.