For the record, what offended the FCC was not that these guys were calling people they couldn't buy cigars from, or that they were insulting a guy who has an air force,(10) but that they failed to get Castro's permission to put him on the air.
Honest. You're not allowed to put people on the radio without their permission. Under New York Times v. Sullivan, you could slander Castro 'til you were blue in the face, but if you want to put him on the radio, you have to say, "Mother, may I."
The radio station came up with a novel defense. They argued "the rule requiring people to be notified before their voices are used does not apply to people in Cuba." There's a certain surface appeal to that argument, but somehow I'm reassured by the fact the FCC rejected it.(11)
It didn't really have much chance. The FCC's only got one Spanish-speaking staff investigator to cover 626 Spanish-language radio stations. Newsweek seems to feel this may have something to do with the fact that FCC prosecutions of Spanish-language cases aren't exactly thick on the ground. They weren't about to let this one wriggle off the hook on a jurisdictional point.
I dunno. Part of me says this is not worthy of FCC involvement-not when there are big issues like why only one breast was bared on television during the entire Super Bowl. I mean, if Castro wants his calls screened, let him buy an answering machine like the rest of us.
But I suppose we can't let just anyone make us look stupid to foreign governments. As de Maistre recognized, that's the job of our elected leaders.
10. Always a bad idea.
11. I understand the United States Supreme Court is going to wrestle with the issue of whether U.S. laws are available to people in Cuba; I'm sure the FCC will reopen WXDJ's case if the outcome is different on this point.
"FCC Stands for 'Fidel's Crank Call'," Orange County Lawyer (June 2004) (note: this link will expire with the next issue).
If you're not reading Bedworth on a regular basis, you're either not a lawyer or you are a lawyer who does not have a recognizable sense of humor. Either waylighten up! And I'm really looking forward to Twenty Questions this month, because Justice Bedsworth will be the interviewee.