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Battle Lines Being Drawn in Fight Over Fairness Doctrine

What seemed a pipe dream six months ago is now a serious movement in Congress.

by
Brent Littlefield

Bio

December 19, 2008 - 12:02 am
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In my youth I worked for radio stations.

I am just old enough, and the stations were just “economically challenged” enough, to have used old radio dial control boards and meters. Back then, those of us who held FCC licenses would dutifully check readings to ensure our stations did not emit a signal that would interfere with another station’s broadcast signal miles away.

This was important for commerce. Stations were selling ad time and federal regulations properly required we stay within our limits.

Now some activists are trying to revive another antiquated and unnecessary system: a so-called “Fairness Doctrine” that has nothing to do with fairness or ensuring the free flow of commerce.

A senior advisor to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told one magazine last year, “Conservative radio is a huge threat and political advantage for Republicans and we have had to find a way to limit it.” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York stated on a live cable news show on Election Day his support for a new Fairness Doctrine so, as he said, we could truly be “fair and balanced” under his definition. Obama’s political confidant, Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, said, “It’s time to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine.”

And just this week, Representative Anna Eshoo (D-CA), a prominent member of the House Subcommittee that may take up the Fairness Doctrine next year, said that she wanted to bring it back. “I still believe in it,” Eshoo told the Daily Post in Palo Alto.

Why do they say it’s needed? They claim the federal government must ensure local stations fully cover local news and topics of the day. However, those promoting the new Fairness Doctrine come from the politically correct left, which is incensed that conservative-minded talk show hosts have large ratings, large audiences, and big paychecks.

Liberal activists want the federal government to determine if a station is balanced and providing politically correct programming in our neighborhoods. Just imagine, if you will, a federal bureaucrat hops on a plane and travels from Washington to a local rural radio station. That bureaucrat then walks in to tell a station manager what to put on the air.

Yes, Virginia, they would be coming from the government and they would only be there to help. Or so the activists promoting the Fairness Doctrine want you to believe.

The original doctrine was in place at a time when radio was king. Radio stations were a main point of information. Now we receive news and information via our PDA, Blackberry, laptops, and desktops by visiting blogs, texting, and reading news sites. Digital cable boxes sit in our homes. We listen to music on digital recorders and we even get our news from satellite radio.

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