Democratic Federal Communications Commission nominee Gigi Sohn has gotten support from what would appear at first blush to be an unlikely ally, Charles Herring, president of conservative One America News Network.
Sohn was slammed by The Wall Street Journal in an editorial this week titled “A Media Censor for the FCC?” The question mark suggested the jury was still out, but the editorial appeared to be more of an exclamation point. It said her “strident partisanship” should disqualify her and that she “favors deploying the agency’s regulatory power to shackle broadband providers and silence conservative voices.”
As a top aide to FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, Sohn was a big advocate for the imposition of net neutrality rules and was no fan of Sinclair Broadcast Group for its perceived conservative bias (nor were many other Democrats).
In a statement on the OAN website, Herring painted a quite different portrait while conceding their politics were hardly on the same page.
“I’m fully aware of Gigi's personal views,” said Herring, which have raised red flags among Republican senators preparing to grill her at a confirmation hearing and vote on her nomination. ”[Y]et I‘m even more knowledgeable on her strong belief and advocacy for diversity in the programming lineup, especially in news, regardless of conflicts with her personal views.”
Herring for years has been fighting to get distributor shelf space for his networks, including asking the FCC for help.
Rather than being someone who wants to silence voices, Herring says she has advocated for “reasonable policies to support numerous points of view and to open up the markets to independent voices in all aspects of the media. She believes in the First Amendment and the advantages of a strong and open media for the benefit of democracy.”
He called on other programmers to “step up” and support Sohn.
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.