Fairness Doctrine handed strong rebuke in US House


Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), a former radio talk show host, may be on the minority side of the isle in the US House of Representatives, but he was clearly in the majority with the amendment he introduced to bar the FCC from using any federal funds to reinstate the so-called "Fairness Doctrine." The amendment to an appropriations bill was adopted last night by an overwhelming 309-115 vote. Most of the recent talk about reinstating the Fairness Doctrine, which the FCC eliminated in 1987, has come from Democrats in the Senate, but last night's vote showed that party members in the House were less enamored of the idea.

"This House will say what some in the other body are not saying, that we believe in freedom on the airwaves. We reject the doctrines of the past that would have this federal government manage political speech on the public airwaves," Pence said in pitching his amendment.

Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and John Kerry (D-MA) had recently made statements calling for the return of the Fairness Doctrine, which required broadcasters to provide equal time for views opposed to those which had been aired.

NAB had told lawmakers that bringing back the Fairness Doctrine was "unnecessary, unwarranted and unconstitutional." The broadcast trade organization was quick to praise the House vote. "Complementing the absolute explosion in alternative media outlets since the Fairness Doctrine was eliminated, broadcast viewers and listeners today enjoy a rich diversity of viewpoints from all sides of the political spectrum. We salute House members who today stood with our nation's Founding Fathers and embraced a robust press that is free and unfettered from government interference," said NAB Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton.