How to irritate a rich, liberal television station owner without hardly trying

I met Tina Trenner at a luncheon meeting the other day. She was working the room, handing out fliers urging people to file complaints with the FCC about their local NBC affiliates for not operating in the “public interest.”

Tina Trenner

Now, my principled position on such matters is generally to oppose efforts to gag opposing viewpoints but rather engage them with more free speech and dialogue to reach a Miltonian outcome in which truth prevails. But I might have to make an exception in this case, since the endeavor is a surely a futile gesture, and because it appeals to a certain pleasure obtained by being nettlesome to the overly comfortable and self-assured.

The local NBC affiliate — KSNV-TV, Channel 3 — is Jim Rogers, a wealthy liberal who personally takes to the airwaves to editorialize when it suits his politics and pocketbook. He once did a 10-part editorial series on a news story the Review-Journal was covering though his station never did any news coverage. He also blasted newspapers for not paying sales taxes on ink and paper — the standard manufacturing exemption of materials that produce a final product — even though his family had lobbied for a tax exemption for television commercials.

Trenner argued that much of the news media today is little more than a propaganda arm of liberal politics. Her Battle Born PAC  hopes to at least get the attention of NBC affiliate owners like Rogers who must jump through hoops with the FCC when enough complaints are filed. Why, carrying Jon Ralston’s program alone amounts to an affront to common decency and fairness.

In arguing that NBC affiliates are not broadcasting in the “public interest,” Battle Born PAC states, “We here at Battle Born PAC do not believe NBC feeds its affiliate’s honest or accurate news every night on NBC’s Nightly News. Thereby NBC is causing each affiliate to circumvent the laws of broadcasting and to deliver erroneous, misleading and outright dishonest reports.  It is then impossible for each affiliate to live up to the mandate set forth by Congress. This cannot be in the public interest … to the contrary it is the exact opposite.”

On the website, the PAC points out that each of the approximately 200 NBC affiliates has to renew its license every five years. If they to operate in the “public interest, convenience and necessity,” as the law dictates, that license can be revoked. All complaints go into public files, which must be available for inspection.

The website has instructions for filing such a complaint.

So, if you are feeling nettlesome, procede.