FCC influence wanes amid shifting landscape of entertainment media

Published: Thursday, Nov. 1 2012 5:00 p.m. MDT

When armed terrorists killed four Americans on Sept. 11 at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, many political pundits feared an anti-Islamic video on YouTube sparked the attacks.

Google/YouTube immediately blocked the video from Egypt and Libya, and subsequently pulled the video from five other countries where it violated local laws. But even though consensus opinion branded the video as patently offensive, it remained online everywhere else in the world.

"The company pointed to its internal edicts to explain why it rebuffed calls to take down the video altogether," Somini Sengupta wrote in a New York Times news analysis article. "It did not meet its definition of hate speech, YouTube said, and so it allowed the video to stay up on the Web. It didn’t say very much more."

In another article about the same anti-Islamic video Sengupta deemed Google to be one of the Internet companies that "write their own edicts about what kind of expression is allowed, things as diverse as pointed political criticism, nudity and notions as murky as hate speech" and "set (their) own rules, capriciously sometimes and without the due process that binds most countries."

Unlike entities such as Google that self-regulate the broadcast of online video content, the FCC adheres to a certain level of transparency by being "barred by law from trying to prevent the broadcast of any point of view," according to its own website.

Jamshid Ghazi Askar is a graduate of BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School and member of the Utah State Bar. Contact him at jaskar@desnews.com or 801-236-6051.

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