FCC Complaint


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peep
March 3, 2009, 10:52 PM
I’ve been thinking for some time about bias and ignorance that too often appears in news media concerning gun related stories. This is specifically concerning broadcast media. When TV stations air blatantly misleading or incorrect yarns (faked footage, etc.), what do you think about a concerted effort to have activist file complaint letters with the FCC with each offending TV station? Something like:

http://esupport.fcc.gov/complaints.htm?sid=d1e640&id=d1e697

Faked footage can be something like what happened with CNN as in
http://gunowners.org/op0333.htm

where the video crew had a sheriff fire a full auto machine gun and it was implied to the viewing audience that the 1994 “Assault Weapons” ban was to keep such weapons “off the streets.” Of course, that was a cable network but it can also happen with over-the-air broadcast.

A few weeks ago a local TV station aired a short piece about the possibility of a similar ban and danged if they didn’t show a burst from a full auto M16 (again, more misdirection). I didn’t see the whole piece, and didn’t call them on it because of other time consuming issues. We live in a rather pro gun area so I hope some other people did.

I don’t know how much of this kind of journalism is intentional. I’m sure some of it is because of ignorance and/or laziness. It really doesn’t matter though because it will be very damaging if another AWB is attempted.

I’ve called and written local stations to give a point-by-point critique of bad reporting before. Maybe filing FCC complaints isn’t nice but neither is trying to squash the Second Amendment. I think it will really irritate the network affiliates who will probably give the network an ear-full for producing the program and causing the problem. Maybe this would also work to get some of the news gathering agencies to clean up their act?

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paramedic70002
March 4, 2009, 05:02 PM
I think it's about time the 'Press' got called on the carpet when they mislead the public. They've taken 1A liberties over the line. BATFEP anyone?

armslist
March 4, 2009, 05:13 PM
I like this idea. Perhaps we should develop a DIY website with instructions for how to challenge media outlets. That would help make it easier for people to do this to local stations, and encourage people to make these challenges.

It's about time the media fears the legal and liability recoil/backlash from the gun owning community rather than just from the gun-haters.

We need to be more outspoken than the other side.

Gun owners should take notes from other minority groups who have their voices heard, because when you get down to it, I don't even think gun owners are a minority, we shouldn't have any trouble having our voices heard.

MTO
March 4, 2009, 05:16 PM
BATFEP anyone?

Very nice, paramedic70002. :-)

DHJenkins
March 4, 2009, 05:45 PM
The FCC only cares about bad words and nudity.

If no one violated any actual FCC rules, your complaint will go in the trash.

BTDT.

peep
March 4, 2009, 11:13 PM
This is my first post (other than the short intro for new members) on THR so thanks everyone for the comments. I’m not an expert on the FCC regs but I think consumer complaints are supposed to be at least “looked at” during license renewals.

DHJenkins, I rather suspected as you say the complaints would end up in the trash. I assume by that you mean no real action will be taken against the station although a record of the actual complaint is kept(?). I also noticed the BTDT “been there, done that” so thanks for at least trying to get their attention.

Suppose the mainstream media shifts its anti-gun propaganda machine into high gear again. I noticed one of the complaint categories listed is “Unauthorized, unfair, biased, illegal broadcasts.” I agree it is very unlikely the FCC would sanction or fine a station for the unfair or biased stuff but I was thinking a flurry of formal complaints filed through the FCC would have a much higher profile because they can’t just pitch them in the trash or hit the delete key as they would with an ordinary letter. Who knows, maybe somebody in management would decide it’s easer to clean up the reporting than deal with all the extra paper work?

peep
March 4, 2009, 11:15 PM
Accidental double post

hso
March 5, 2009, 10:58 AM
I noticed one of the complaint categories listed is “Unauthorized, unfair, biased, illegal broadcasts.” I agree it is very unlikely the FCC would sanction or fine a station for the unfair or biased stuff but I was thinking a flurry of formal complaints filed through the FCC would have a much higher profile because they can’t just pitch them in the trash or hit the delete key as they would with an ordinary letter. Who knows, maybe somebody in management would decide it’s easer to clean up the reporting than deal with all the extra paper work?

Nice idea, peep. That could be a fulcrum to allow us to lever the specific media outlets closer to reality.

peep
March 6, 2009, 12:24 AM
The feedback here is encouraging so I plan to do some more digging as in reading more FCC text and making some telephone inquiries.

DHJenkins
March 6, 2009, 08:21 AM
The problem is that you're correct. Most of it is done through laziness or ignorance or because that's simply their only piece of stock footage.

Proving an "unfair, unauthorized..." etc... violation is almost impossible when dealing with a news organization.

Also, technically, an M16 is an assault rifle so it's hard to argue that they aren't being factual.

The FCC can react to specific complaints, but they will not be an agent of change as far as the media goes.

If you want your local station to change, and you want to be taken seriously, the first step is to form an organization or join an existing one that's willing to act. Even if it's just you, that's good enough - all you need is a website and a name which infers a large membership. Find out who their advertisers are, and start making noise about boycotts. If any of the advertisers are obviously pro-gun (sporting goods, etc...) approach them directly and have them contact the station. The PD will always listen to the money.

peep
March 7, 2009, 03:44 PM
Also, technically, an M16 is an assault rifle so it's hard to argue that they aren't being factual.

Actually, this is the point about the “assault weapons ban” controversy. “Assault weapons,” of course, is a made up political term that can mean almost anything. Both of the examples mentioned in my original post concerned real assault rifles that can fire more than one round with a single pull of the trigger. They are highly regulated and have nothing to do with either the expired (94) ban or proposals such as HR1022. Bills like HR1022 are an attempt to ban look-alike and other semi auto rifles and put some severe restrictions on capabilities of semi auto handguns.

When a network crew produces a piece showing or describing a real assault rifle and falsely implies the legislation in question is about such weapons, this is very misleading and I think worthy of a complaint, actually, a lot of complaints.

If you want your local station to change, and you want to be taken seriously, the first step is to form an organization or join an existing one that's willing to act. Even if it's just you, that's good enough - all you need is a website and a name which infers a large membership. Find out who their advertisers are, and start making noise about boycotts. If any of the advertisers are obviously pro-gun (sporting goods, etc...) approach them directly and have them contact the station. The PD will always listen to the money.

Good idea. We have a couple of regional chains that are somewhat consistent advertisers on local TV stations. However, in my original post I possibly muddied the issue little bit by including the example of the individual station. This particular station does not really push an anti-gun agenda and some polite calls or contact with the news manager may be all that is necessary. If not, we can contact the advertisers.


If a congressional gun ban bill starts making any kind of progress, the national networks will probably not be kind to gun owners (to put it mildly). That’s why I was thinking about the FCC complaint. Taking a quick look over their enforcement actions, I see even the indecency complaints have a low success rate. I’m not saying the FCC would likely rule that a station airing a biased story is out of compliance. I’m saying that it is easy enough to file a compliant that I see no reason not to. If the mainstream media mount a major anti-gun campaign (AWB?), just include a copy of it along with the main message when sending the email or letter to the station(s) to protest the airing a misleading story.

armedandsafe
April 4, 2009, 01:06 AM
What they are looking for in not an occassional blip, but a pattern. That is why it will be so important to report every time the station air information that is blatantly wrong, biased or mis-leading.

One use of that footage reported by 1000 people is not a big deal. One thousand separate incidents like that are significant, even if each is reported by only a few people.

Pops

Grayrider
April 4, 2009, 11:30 AM
I think the focus of this should be NPR. It is taxpayer funded. Their pattern of bias is clear and well documented. It is so pervasive and consistent over a long period of time that it cannot be explained as accidental. Make them an example and other media will pay attention. NPR needs to go away anyway as the tax payers have no business funding a news service. That should be an entirely private enterprise.

John

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