Talk radio and Fox News were recently introduced to the LifeLine program and the meeting didn’t go well.
We’re out there talking about the LifeLine free government cell phone program every day, but something -– we’re not sure what -– suddenly caused the program to go viral in mid-August.
Suddenly radio and television hosts who had never heard of the program decided it was a huge taxpayer rip-off of the next day. Almost overnight it became impossible to turn on a local or national talk show –- radio or television — without hearing about LifeLine.
We’ve become known as the nation’s leading experts on the LifeLine phone program and as a result we were sought out by dozens of talk radio stations around the country. We were happy to go on the air and correct some of the misconceptions about the LifeLine program.
As you can see in the video below, even Fox News got in on the act.
Host Shannon Bream got things started off on the wrong foot by calling LifeLine “a controversial call” and asserting that Americans were now demanding free cell phones as a “civil right.” You may think that’s a harsh accusation, but the conversation went downhill from there.
Guest David Selig then called Lifeline a “shakedown” and said people who participate in the program “don’t deserve something free on the taxpayer’s nickel.” (Selig is obviously a man who’s never been down on his luck and needed a little help to get back up.)
Bream and her guests got into a heated discussion — that’s putting it mildly — regarding the Universal Service Fund and who pays for the LifeLine service. Accusations and inaccuracies flew back and forth and ended with one guest telling another that he was “deliberately misleading your viewing audience or he has the business acumen of a wood tick.” (As opposed to Selig, who appears to have the compassion of a wood tick.)
Please allow us to clear one common misconception regarding the LifeLine service. Most people who are familiar with the program know that telephone companies are required to contribute to the Universal Service Fund, but far fewer are aware that it has never been mandated that those fees be passed on to their customers.
Yes, you read that correctly. Each telephone service provider makes the determination if it will pass those costs on to the customer.
Here’s the bottom line: If a Universal Service Fund fee appears on your monthly phone bill it’s because your telephone company decided that it would pass those costs on instead of absorbing them. It’s not required by law.
We’ve made our position clear countless times: We think LifeLine is an outstanding program that helps millions of Americans who need a helping hand. Human nature assures that some people will attempt to cheat the system and take unfair advantage of the generosity of others. We are strongly opposed to any fraud that takes place in the LifeLife program.
We will continue to champion this outstanding program. We will continue promoting it on radio and television and in print. We will continue to fight lies that are told about the program.
Why? Because LifeLine is the perfect name for a program that really does provide millions of Americans with a life line they so desperately need.