The whole rationale for any regulation of broadcasting is based on the theory of scarcity, which has been basically discredited technologically. Unfortunately, it lives on in legal precedents – otherwise the FCC would have as much power to stop them from broadcasting anything short of porn as they do to stop newspapers from printing things.
Still, FCC regulations generally prohibit it from engaging in pre-emptive censorship. The FCC can respond to complaints after the fact, and impose penalties, but not step into to censor the broadcast before it happens.
As for campaign-finance laws and various restrictions on free speech, my position, which is shared by a lot of folks, is that the Supreme Court and congress have built a system that is exactly ass-backwards. To the extent you can make an originalist argument about what the 1st Amendment was designed to protect from regulation, it was protecting political speech. Not the right to smear yourself in chocolate and run naked through the fields; not the right to make art by dipping crucifixes in urine; not screaming obscenities in Times Square. Those things are protected because it is too hard to differentiate, at the margins, between some things that might have a political component and those that don’t, and we don’t trust the government to make that distinction, generally.
Political speech, for those who need the reminder, is speech that is specifically intended to affect the political process – you know, affect elections.
Now, I haven’t seen the movie that Sinclair wants to show, and neither have most people complaining about it. If it’s false, I hope that Kerry has information at the ready to show that, and I hope all the TV networks will air it. The cure for bad/incorrect speech is good/correct speech.
Michael Moore’s movie was a big, steaming pile of crap that was designed to affect the election. I’ve never been for censoring his movie – lots of good info has come out to debunk all his crap, and if a certain portion of people refuses to believe the debunking, I’m guessing that a lot of those didn’t have their opinions swayed by the movie at any rate. But that’s how it’s supposed to work – crap comes out, people debunk/argue with it, and people make up their minds. That’s why it’s called the “marketplace of ideas.”