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Return of the "Fairness Doctrine"?
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Yesterday I appealed to Europe to say "no" to a law which would make Holocaust denial a crime. Today the appeal is focused on the US. Say "no" to the resurrection of the "Fairness Doctrine":
Over the weekend, the National Conference for Media Reform was held in Memphis, TN, with a number of notable speakers on hand for the event. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) made an surprise appearance at the convention to announce that he would be heading up a new House subcommittee which will focus on issues surrounding the Federal Communications Commission.

The Presidential candidate said that the committee would be holding "hearings to push media reform right at the center of Washington.” The Domestic Policy Subcommittee of the House Government Reform Committee was to be officially announced this week in Washington, D.C., but Kucinich opted to make the news public early.

In addition to media ownership, the committee is expected to focus its attention on issues such as net neutrality and major telecommunications mergers. Also in consideration is the "Fairness Doctrine," which required broadcasters to present controversial topics in a fair and honest manner. It was enforced until it was eliminated in 1987.

Kucinich said in his speech that "We know the media has become the servant of a very narrow corporate agenda" and added "we are now in a position to move a progressive agenda to where it is visible."
The meeting was heavily funded by George Soros and had quite an array of the "Who's Who" of the extreme left:
Reaching new levels of hysteria, Rep. Maurice Hinchey said the survival of America was itself at stake because "neo-fascist" and "neo-con" talk-show hosts led by Rush Limbaugh had facilitated the "illegal" war in Iraq and were complicit in President Bush's repeated violations of the Constitution, such as by detaining terrorists. He warned that the "right-wing oriented media" were now preparing the way for Bush to wage war on Iran and Syria.

His answer, a bill titled the "Media Ownership Reform Act," would reinstate the federal fairness doctrine and authorize bureaucrats at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to monitor and alter the content of radio and television programs.

Hinchey, chairman of the "Future of American Media Caucus" in the House, was introduced as the new chairman of a subcommittee with jurisdiction over the FCC. For Hinchey and the vast majority at the conference, there was a pressing need for more, not less, regulation of what they call the "corporate media."
Requiring broadcasters to, as Kucinich argues, "present controversial topics in a fair and honest manner" means government will determine what is controversial and what is a "fair and honest" manner. And apparently, Rep. Hinchey, the chairman of the "Future of American Media Caucus" in the House and new chair of the subcommittee with oversight of the FCC believes it is time to impose more regulation on at least one part of the media.

Not the job of Congress. Nor is it the job of the FCC. Oh, I know they can write law which gives them the power, but it is an anathema to any freedom loving person and a clear attempt to limit speech.

Essentially the doctrine was aimed only toward radio, not newspapers or TV. Radio, of course, has become a dominant bastion of mostly conservative thought. Although there have been attempts by liberals to actually break into the seeming strangle hold conservatives have on talk radio (such as Air America) they have had little real success as the market just doesn't seem interested in their product to this point.

Although similar laws had been declared unconstitutional when Congress had attempted to apply them to newspapers, the Supreme Court upheld the doctrine for radio in Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v FCC (1969).

The SC's argument was that radio stations could be regulated in this way because of "the limited nature of the public airwave spectrum". That, of course, has been overcome by technology (internet, satellite, shortwave, etc.) and, I would think, no longer provides a basis for approval (no matter how specious such reasoning was previously).

In 1987, the FCC under Ronald Reagan abolished the doctrine by a 4-0 vote and it's abolition was upheld by DC Circuit Court of Appeals in its Syracuse Peace Council decision.. The FCC argued the doctrine had grown to "inhibit rather than enhance debate" and suggested that, "due to the many media voices in the marketplace at the time, the doctrine was probably unconstitutional".

Congressional Democrats have tried, at various times in the past, to reinstate the doctrine but have been unsuccessful.

In my estimation we should do everything within our power to ensure they're unsuccessful again. Radio, as with all media markets, should be just that, markets. It is the consumers of the market's products which should direct them, not the government's arbitrary idea of what is "controversial" and what is "fair".

Oh, and this is another in a long line of reasons why libertarians and liberals aren't going to "fuse" anytime soon.
 
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They’ve been after Limbaugh and Fox for quite awhile now and I guarandamntee you that this doctrine will amazingly enough be ONLY applied to them, with maybe Hannity and a couple other conservative hosts thrown in.

 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
This is just precious:
Reaching new levels of hysteria, Rep. Maurice Hinchey said the survival of America was itself at stake because "neo-fascist" and "neo-con" talk-show hosts led by Rush Limbaugh had facilitated the "illegal" war in Iraq and were complicit in President Bush’s repeated violations of the Constitution, such as by detaining terrorists. He warned that the "right-wing oriented media" were now preparing the way for Bush to wage war on Iran and Syria.
And his answer to that creeping "neo-fascism"?
His answer, a bill titled the "Media Ownership Reform Act," would reinstate the federal fairness doctrine and authorize bureaucrats at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to monitor and alter the content of radio and television programs.
Yep. That’ll solve it. I guess this is the "fight fire with fire" approach?

It will never cease to amaze me that people fall for the idea that government isn’t the problem, but instead that it’s the people who run the government who are the problem. I mean, how gullible do you have to be to believe that that the answer to creeping government intrusion into our lives is more government intrusion?
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
Maurice Hinchey is involved, eh?

This would be the same Maurice Hinchey that threatened Sean Hannity in the spring of ’05 during a radio interview. They were in a commercial break at the time as I recall, but the radio station were still recording, and Hannity is rumored to have that taped threat in his possession.

I can hardly wait for the House hearings...
 
Written By: Confederate Yankee
URL: http://confederateyankee.mu.nu
Reaching new levels of hysteria, Rep. Maurice Hinchey said the survival of America was itself at stake because "neo-fascist" and "neo-con" talk-show hosts led by Rush Limbaugh had facilitated the "illegal" war in Iraq and were complicit in President Bush’s repeated violations of the Constitution, such as by detaining terrorists.
Scratches chin....

It reads as if Representative Hinchey is claiming that the Democrats in the House and Senate who voted for OIF were listening to "neo-fascist" and "neo-con" radio talk show hosts. If they don’t, how could those radio shows have influenced their OIF approval votes?
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
It reads as if Representative Hinchey is claiming that the Democrats in the House and Senate who voted for OIF were listening to "neo-fascist" and "neo-con" radio talk show hosts. If they don’t, how could those radio shows have influenced their OIF approval votes?
Heh ... well it wasn’t characterized as "hysteria" incorrectly, was it?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I’ll grant you that resurrecting the fairness doctrine would be wrong, but referring to what radio has become a bastion of as conservative thought must be either ironic or charitable.

There’s an argument for the Democrats against restoring the fairness doctrine. If they do, then they might unleash upon the union a set of broadcasters as odious and embarrassing as those whom they mean to silence. Of course this might not be persuasive given that many of them probably thought that Air America was admirable.
 
Written By: Paul A. Brömmer
URL: http://www.vikinghats.com
People actually listen to radio talk shows?

How?

I mean seriously, it’s like 10 minutes of talk interrupted by 50 minutes of commercials.

No thanks, I’ll take Q&O over AM any day.
 
Written By: Robb Allen
URL: http://blog.robballen.com
Can this apply anywhere? I mean, if the local sports talk jock trashes the local baseball team, can they use this doctrine to demand equal time to defend themselves?

In some towns, your team is more important than your politics or religion.

On the other hand, whenever the news yammers about global warming, can global warming skeptics get equal time?

This could be fun after all...
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
In some towns, your team is more important than your politics or religion.
Come on shark... it’s not SOME towns... it is MOST towns. I believe Boortz says it best "ask anyone at the water cooler who the college coach is or who the starting pitcher is and you’ll get an answer. Now ask them who their congress person is. Usually silence. Who is the Sec of State... almost always silence".

Sports is more important to the masses. Bread and circus.
On the other hand, whenever the news yammers about global warming, can global warming skeptics get equal time?


Now we’re talking! But it won;t work. To Kucinich, fairness is a one way street.
 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
Dennis Kucinich was on Hugh Hewitt last week.
Maybe he is not happy with his treatment on that show.
 
Written By: Paul L.
URL: http://kingdomofidiots.blogspot.com/
Come on shark... it’s not SOME towns... it is MOST towns. I believe Boortz says it best "ask anyone at the water cooler who the college coach is or who the starting pitcher is and you’ll get an answer. Now ask them who their congress person is. Usually silence. Who is the Sec of State... almost always silence".
To be fair, the coach or starting pitcher is usually much more effective at their jobs than your congressperson or Sec. State :)
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Can this apply anywhere? I mean, if the local sports talk jock trashes the local baseball team, can they use this doctrine to demand equal time to defend themselves?
Given the perpetual controversy of Creationism v. Evolution, would re-enacting the ’Fairness Doctrine’ mean that religous radio stations owned and operated by church groups would have to grant equal time to folks espousing Darwin’s Theory?
 
Written By: Ronnie Gipper
URL: http://socalconservative.blogspot.com
And if this does come back, what’s next? Price controls?

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
And if this does come back, what’s next? Price controls?
of course, after all it is Democrats we are talking about.
 
Written By: kyle N
URL: http://impudent.blognation.us/blog
His answer, a bill titled the "Media Ownership Reform Act," would reinstate the federal fairness doctrine and authorize bureaucrats at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to monitor and alter the content of radio and television programs.
Somebody please remind me why we need a "Federal Communications Commission" at all? The fact that we ever had (and still have) such a thing, with nefarious bureaucrats "monitoring and altering" the content of radio and television programs in the first place is kind of creepy.

Sometimes we forget that although the Bill of Rights states that we have the right to free speech and freedom of the press, that’s only after the government gives it the OK.
 
Written By: DS
URL: http://
About the only thing that we need the FCC for is the technical stuff about one station not excessively interfering with another.

If you have a station on 1190 in your town, the station on 1200 about 200 miles away shouldn’t cover it over.

Stuff like that.

Content? They’ll never please anyone so they shouldn’t start trying.
 
Written By: David R. Block
URL: http://

 
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