Saturday, October 25, 2008

Why the Fairness Doctrine is NOT Fair.

It all comes down to one thing... If you don't like what you're hearing you can turn the dial, or you can switch the channel, or you can even turn it off :)

This first article below explains what the Fairness Doctrine was. The fairness doctrine was overturned by the FCC in 1987. The FCC discarded the rule because, contrary to its purpose, it failed to encourage the discussion of more controversial issues. There were also concerns that it was in violation of First Amendment free speech principles. The legislation now before Congress would enshrine the fairness doctrine into law. The result of a re-instituted fairness doctrine would not be fair at all. FCC Chairman James Quello, has stated that, "The fairness doctrine doesn't belong in a country that's dedicated to freedom of the press and freedom of speech." (Doug Halonen, "Twelve to Watch in 1993," Electronic Media, January 25, 1993, p. 66.)
Supporters of the fairness doctrine argue that because the airwaves are a scarce resource, they should be policed by federal bureaucrats to ensure that all viewpoints are heard. Yet, just because the spectrum within which broadcast frequencies are found has boundaries, it does not mean that there is a practical shortage of views being heard over the airwaves. A wide variety of opinions is available to the public through radios, cable channels, and even computers. With America on the verge of information superhighways and 500-channel televisions, there is little prospect of speech being stifled. With the proliferation of informational resources and technology, the number of broadcast outlets available to the public has increased steadily. In such an environment, it is hard to understand why the federal government must police the airwaves to ensure that differing views are heard.
(info found on: http://www.heritage.org/Research/Regulation/EM368.cfm)

Back to Muzak? Congress and the Un-Fairness Doctrine
by James L. Gattuso
WebMemo #1472
May 23, 2007
Excerpts from: http://www.heritage.org/Research/Regulation/wm1472.cfm

"Should the federal government mandate "fairness" in broadcasting? "Yes," say some Members of Congress, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who reportedly said this week that House leaders would "aggressively pursue" legislation to reinstate the "Fairness Doctrine."[3] Until it was abolished in 1987, this Federal Communications Commission rule required broadcasters to air all sides of controversial issues.

At first glance, the rule may sound innocuous. Fairness is, after all, a basic American value. But as a matter of principle, any such government controls on media content is anathema to constitutional guarantees of free speech. And in practice, the so-called fairness doctrine was deeply unfair.

The real effect of the Fairness Doctrine was to discourage discussion of controversial issues of any kind. It's no coincidence that such media as talk radio--virtually non-existent while the rule was in place--flowered after its repeal. ... radio--has become a platform for vibrant and controversial debate on countless issues.

The Fairness Doctrine was developed by the FCC over a long period... In its final form, the rule required broadcasters to "afford reasonable opportunity for discussion of contrasting points of view on controversial matters of public importance."

The vagueness of the standard left quite a bit of uncertainty. What is a "reasonable" opportunity? How many "contrasting" views? Station managers whose programming ventured too far into controversial subjects could quite easily find themselves subject to a fairness doctrine challenge. And even if the challenge ultimately failed, the cost of defending against it could be substantial. So the safe route for most was to stay far away from controversy. As a result, policy discussion on the airwaves for decades was, for the most part, as bland as cottage cheese.

With the [Fairness] Doctrine's repeal, radio shows could become more one-sided, more free-wheeling, ideological and political. And it didn't take long. One of the first to gain popularity under the new rules was a new voice out of California named Rush Limbaugh. Within a year or two of the new rules, Limbaugh's provocative denunciations of Democrats became a phenomenon. Stations quickly began to pick up his syndicated show, and other conservative names followed his lead. Being controversial seemed a plus. We now had the freedom to express strong opinions and views without fear of regulatory reprisal.

Certainly, conservative-oriented talk radio has been more successful than left-leaning radio programming. But broadcasting is only one small part of today's media universe, which includes not just radio and television broadcasting but print, cable, and Internet sources...

Entirely new systems such as cable TV and satellite radio have been created, offering consumers hundreds of channels.

Conservatives have had no lock on opportunities, even in radio. Programming with a liberal bent, from Mario Cuomo's show to Air America, has been given opportunities and will get more.

Regulating speech in order to alter its content is exactly the sort of meddling that the First Amendment is meant to prohibit. It is simply not the job of politicians to "correct" the mix of opinions being expressed in the marketplace of ideas, even if--and especially if--they disagree with those opinions.

The Federal Communications Commission did the right thing 20 years ago in throwing this unnecessary, counter-productive, and unwise restriction on speech into the regulatory dustbin. It should be left there. To do otherwise would be dangerous and unconstitutional."


This article below explains how the libs want to re-impose the Fairness Doctrine on "radio" broadcasters - it is radio talks show they want to go after. They think it is unfair that there are so many conservative radio talk shows - they feel the news is unbalanced. What a joke. What about ABC, NBC, CBS, the New York Times, The Washington Post, and a host of other pro-left wing liberal media. They won't be held to the same standards. Since it is impossible for every station to be monitored constantly, FCC regulators would arbitrarily determine what "fair access" is, and who is entitled to it, through selective enforcement. This, of course, puts immense power into the hands of federal regulators.

By requiring, under threat of arbitrary legal penalty, that broadcasters "fairly" represent both sides of a given issue, advocates of the doctrine believe that more views will be aired while the editorial content of the station can remain unaltered. But with the threat of potential FCC retaliation for perceived lack of compliance, most broadcasters would be more reluctant to air their own opinions because it might require them to air alternative perspectives that their audience does not want to hear. Thus, the result of the fairness doctrine in many cases would be to stifle the growth of disseminating views and, in effect, make free speech less free.


I particularly love this comment a reader made to this article below: "A poll was taken among notables Adolf Hitler, Joseph Goebbels, Heinrich Himmler, Josef Stalin, and others and the results are unanimous: All agreed completely with Gruppenfuerher Bingaman..."

article from: http://www.cnsnews.com/public/content/article.aspx?RsrcID=38008
Democratic Senator Tells Conservative Radio Station He’d Re-impose Fairness Doctrine--on Them
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
By Pete Winn, Senior Writer/Editor & Matthew Cover

"(CNSNews.com) – A prominent liberal Democratic senator, while being interviewed on a conservative talk radio station Tuesday, said he hopes a new administration and Congress will re-impose the Fairness Doctrine on radio and TV broadcasters.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) told radio station 770 AM KKOB in Albuquerque, N.M., that he didn’t know if Democrats in Congress will try to re-impose the Fairness Doctrine next year – but he would certainly like them to.

Bingaman told the station he would support re-imposition of the regulation – which was rescinded in 1987 – on the station.

The Fairness Doctrine, which was first implemented in 1949 by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), technically forced broadcasters to "afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views of public importance." Critics call it a “gag rule” on broadcasters.

Here’s a transcript of part of the interview with 770AM KKOB afternoon host Jim Villanucci:

Villanucci: You would want this radio station to have to change?

Bingaman: I would. I would want this station and all stations to have to present a balanced perspective and different points of view instead of always hammering away at one side of the political –

Villanucci: I mean in this market, for instance, you’ve got KKOB. If you want liberal talk, you’ve got Air America in this market, you’ve got NPR, you’ve got satellite radio – there’s a lefty talk station and a rightie talk station. Do you think there are people who aren’t able to find a viewpoint that is in sync with what they believe?

Bingaman: Well I guess my thought is that talk radio and media generally should have a higher calling than just reflect a particular point of view. I think they should use their authority to try to – their broadcast power to present an informed discussion of public issues. KKOB used to be a, used to live under the Fairness Doctrine, and every –

Villanucci: Yeah, we played music, I believe –

Bingaman: But there was a lot of talk also, at least it seemed to me, and there were a lot of talk stations that seemed to do fine. The airwaves are owned by private companies at this point. There’s a license to private companies to operate broadcast stations, and that’s the way it should be. All I’m saying is that for many, many years we operated under a Fairness Doctrine in this country, and I think the country was well-served. I think the public discussion was at a higher level and more intelligent in those days than it has become since.

In an interview with CNSNews.com Wednesday, Villanucci said that Bingaman was adamant about the need to balance conservative voices with liberals on the airwaves – and that his listeners called for four hours to oppose such a move.

“I guess the shocking part was to have a senator sitting across the table from me, basically threatening my job and my show on my show – (it) was kind of stunning,” the talk show host said.

Bingaman’s office confirmed that the senator supports efforts to reinstate the regulation, but Bingaman press secretary Jude McCartin said her boss has no plans to introduce any legislation himself toward that end.

Bingaman, by the way, is the chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee – which does not have jurisdiction over communication issues.

The Democratic Party platform in 2000 called for the re-institution of the doctrine, and prominent congressional Democrats are on record in support of it.

In July, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told CNSNews.com that both he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) strongly supported legislation to reactivate the regulation, which many conservatives say is intended to silence conservative talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh.

A bill to permanently ban re-imposition of the Fairness Doctrine, sponsored by Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), will not be voted on this year, according to Hoyer.

In June, Broadcasting and Cable magazine reported a campaign spokesman for Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) -- press secretary Michael Ortiz -- as saying that the Democratic presidential candidate “does not support re-imposing the Fairness Doctrine on broadcasters."

Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), meanwhile, is on record in oppsition to bringing back the doctrine."

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

What debate? In most parts of the country, you hear one point of view on the radio and that's it.

Gaylynne Coates said...

This is in response to the following comment, “What debate? In most parts of the country, you hear one point of view on the radio and that's it.”
Maybe if you read the entire post – you wouldn’t have asked such a ridiculous question.
If you want to hear the other point of view, listen to most of news on TV or cable (i.e. ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, etc.) or pick up a newspaper (i.e the New York Times, Washington Post, etc). Mainstream media is so biased against the conservatives – and refuses to report the truth, ignores facts, etc.
Conservatives aren’t preventing liberals from starting their own radio talk shows. Programming with a liberal bent, from Mario Cuomo's show to Air America, has been given opportunities and will get more.
There are a wide variety of opinions that are available to the public through radios, cable channels, and even computers. With America on the verge of information superhighways and 500-channel televisions, there is little prospect of speech being stifled.
However, that is not the point. Regulating speech in order to alter its content is exactly the sort of meddling that the First Amendment is meant to prohibit. It is simply not the job of politicians to "correct" the mix of opinions being expressed in the marketplace of ideas, even if--and especially if--they disagree with those opinions. To do so - takes away our Right to Free Speech.
“The Federal Communications Commission did the right thing 20 years ago in throwing this unnecessary, counter-productive, and unwise restriction on speech (one of our rights in the First Amendment) into the regulatory dustbin. It should be left there. To do otherwise would be dangerous and unconstitutional."