MRC wants vote on Fairness


Even though the Senate earlier repudiated any attempt to revive the Fairness Doctrine by an overwhelming bipartisan vote, the bill hasn’t gone anywhere in the House. The Media Research Center wants a straight up-and-down on the Broadcaster Freedom Act in both houses. It recently delivered 400K petitions to that effect to Democratic leaders Harry Reid (D-NV) in the Senate and Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in the House.

MRC says radio giant Clear Channel has been using its 300 news/talk stations to drum up support for immediate congressional action on this matter.

“Free speech on the radio airwaves remains in peril so long as the FCC is just a 3-2 vote away from reinstating the mis-named ‘Fairness’ Doctrine,” said MRC’s Brent Bozell. “And the Doctrine remains a threat to free speech as long as elected officials like Pelosi and Reid – who have expressed their desire to see its reimposition – refuse to give the Broadcaster Freedom Act a vote. The so-called ‘Fairness’ Doctrine is an act of government censorship, better suited for Hugo Chavez and Venezuela.  Speaker Pelosi and Leader Reid, do you support the First Amendment or government censorship?”

RBR/TVBR observation: The Senate made it abundantly clear that Fairness wasn’t going anywhere. We don’t know why similar legislation hasn’t moved in the House, but we would speculate that there are many more pressing matters on the agenda, especially since, well, Fairness really isn’t going anywhere.

Many are worried that there will be attempts to bring it back in disguise, with many citing the FCC’s localism proceeding. In Washington, one should be alert to such maneuvers – but there aren’t any that we are aware of with any traction whatsoever on Capitol Hill.

The FCC effort, misguided as it appears to be, really has nothing to do with Fairness and should be shot down for its own lack of merit.

The FCC basically wants reporting on the amount of local programming stations are providing – but the FCC cannot require any station to provide as much as 30 seconds of local programming if that is not what the licensee chooses to broadcast. Until the FCC is allowed to dictate program content – hell will freeze over first – the localism proceeding is not going to force stations to provide for rebuttal every time somebody says something over its airwaves.

Finally, Bozell makes it sound like the FCC is about to tee this up for a vote. It just doesn’t work that way – if anybody there wanted to do it, and nobody has said they do, they’d have to start with an NPRM, and the howling would be long and loud and would include many from all portions of the political spectrum, including us — and President Obama.