Saturday November 15, 2008 9:51 am
Can We Expect a Return of the Fairness Doctrine?
Following the Democrats’ capturing the White House and gaining 6 seats in the Senate and 19 in the House, there’s a good possibility we’ll see a revival of the so-called “Fairness Doctrine.” Sal alluded to this in one of his blogs, and I’d like to further elaborate.
From 1949-1987, the Fairness Doctrine ruled the broadcast industry. It was originally designed to ensure a “balance” of opinions over the airwaves when only three or four major networks dominated radio and the medium of television was still in its infancy. By the time the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), during the Reagan administration, abolished the Doctrine, cable and satellite TV had offered competitive alternatives to the big broadcast networks.
Conservatives see the return of the Fairness Doctrine as a threat to talk radio, an area in which they’ve been extremely successful. For some reason or other, liberals just haven’t been able to get a grip on successfully using talk radio as a tool to get their message out to the public. And that’s no doubt why left-wing members of Congress, headed by Fairness Doctrine proponent House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), are seriously considering introducing legislation to reinstate the Doctrine. Also voicing their support of the Doctrine’s return are Pelosi’s Democratic friends in the Senate, California’s Dianne Feinstein, New York’s Chuck Schumer, and Majority Whip Dick Durbin, a fellow Illinois colleague of the President-elect.
Barack Obama has stated that he does not support reinstating the Fairness Doctrine. But given Obama’s past Senate history of virtually never going against his party’s wishes, it’s highly unlikely he would veto any Democratic-sponsored legislation to re-enact the Doctrine in some form or other.
What could a new Fairness Doctrine mean? Conservative talk radio programs like those hosted by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Back could be required to allow liberals a portion of their air time to voice opposing views. But could it also mean religious radio and TV stations must allow atheists like Michael Newdow to proseletyze their anti-God bigotry? And don’t be so confident that the Internet will go untouched by the Doctrine. The World-Wide-Web was a generation away when the original Doctrine was introduced. Little did its creators then envision the proliferation of information that would characterize the twenty-first century.
The FCC Chairman is a presidential appointee, and there’s no reason to believe an Obama-appointed chair and board won’t be tempted to restore the Fairness Doctrine. And if it is reinstated and applied to the Internet as well as to radio and TV, will left-wing sites like KOS and the Huffington Post be as highly policed and regulated as Michelle Malkin’s?
A Democratic White House and Congress and eventually (with Presidential appointments) a liberal Supreme Court will allow little room for checks and balances. Enjoy your First Amendment rights while you can.
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- barack obama, chuck schumer, congress, dianne feinstein, dick durbin, fairness doctrine, federal communications commission, glenn beck, huffington post, internet, kos, michelle malkin, nancy pelosi, radio, ronald reagan, rush limbaugh, sean hannity, senate, supreme court, television, white house
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