The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

15 January 2007

Congressional Democrats, Fairness Doctrine, FCC, Rush Limbaugh


Dems Look To Reinstate Fairness Doctrine

Don't look now, but one of the first items of business for congressional Democrats, now in the majority, is to reinstate the free- speech stifling Fairness Doctrine. Once used in an attempt to achieve "balance" on the airwaves, the policy remained in force until the 1980s.

Its Reagan- era repeal, of course, paved the way for talk radio as we know it today. But now, according to AllAccess, the so- called "hush Rush" law could once again rear its ugly head:

Kucinich: Congress Will Consider Bringing Back Fairness Doctrine

Too little quality entertainment, too many people eating bugs on reality TV. Too little local and regional music, too much brain-numbing national play-lists.

At the "Conference for Media Reform" in MEMPHIS FRIDAY, Rep. DENNIS KUCINICH (D-OH), making a surprise appearance, said that in his new capacity as Chairman of the Domestic Policy Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, he would hold hearings on media ownership and the restoration of the Fairness Doctrine.

"We know the media has become the servant of a very narrow corporate agenda," KUCINICH said, adding that "the entire domestic agenda has been ignored while the focus has been on the acceleration of wealth upwards." "We are now in a position to move a progressive agenda to where it is visible," the OHIO Congressman and Presidential candidate said.

What exactly was the Fairness Doctrine? Here's a great resource:

The policy of the United States Federal Communications Commission that became known as the "Fairness Doctrine" is an attempt to ensure that all coverage of controversial issues by a broadcast station be balanced and fair. The FCC took the view, in 1949, that station licensees were "public trustees," and as such had an obligation to afford reasonable opportunity for discussion of contrasting points of view on controversial issues of public importance.

The Commission later held that stations were also obligated to actively seek out issues of importance to their community and air programming that addressed those issues. With the deregulation sweep of the Reagan Administration during the 1980s, the Commission dissolved the fairness doctrine.

This doctrine grew out of concern that because of the large number of applications for radio station being submitted and the limited number of frequencies available, broadcasters should make sure they did not use their stations simply as advocates with a singular perspective. Rather, they must allow all points of view. That requirement was to be enforced by FCC mandate.

From the early 1940s, the FCC had established the "Mayflower Doctrine," which prohibited editorializing by stations. But that absolute ban softened somewhat by the end of the decade, allowing editorializing only if other points of view were aired, balancing that of the station's. During these years, the FCC had established dicta and case law guiding the operation of the doctrine.

Once the policy was repealed, of course, the modern era of talk was unleashed, with Rush Limbaugh leading the charge. That's why subsequent attempts at reinstating it became known as "hush Rush" efforts.

So far, what Kucinich and his Democrat cohorts have failed to explain is how they intend to preserve liberal talk radio while destroying Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and others on the right.

Won't it put Ed Schultz, Stephanie Miller, Randi Rhodes and the other libtalkers out of business just as quickly?

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    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 16 January, 2007 00:32  

  • Won't it put Ed Schultz, Stephanie Miller, Randi Rhodes and the other libtalkers out of business just as quickly?

    Yeah that will be the reason they fail. LOL

    The “fairness doc” will never be passed just wishful thinking by the left. They can’t stop the Rush.

    By Blogger pf1, at 16 January, 2007 00:39  

  • Will,

    I do not support the idea of a Fairness Doctrine, but you should concede that there is a difference between privately-held/published/distributed newspapers or magazines (or any political persuasion) and the public airwaves. For example, you can use obscenity in a magazine, but not on radio. This also is the difference between a broadcast network and a cable network.

    By Blogger Justin, at 16 January, 2007 08:09  

  • I fugured hash and the Minister of Poop would rejoice, but now put this in your batblind craniume, the right will sue to block this muzzling of their voices. The right will then force leftie stations and NPR to balance under the "fairness doctrine". You will reap the muzzling of the left.

    By Blogger PCD, at 16 January, 2007 08:18  

  • I'm fine with a disclaimer law, before each Limbaugh, Hannity, Levin, Ingrham break, there should be a disclaimer

    "the opinions expressed on this program are not that of the host but rather the Republican party, everything you hear are White House talking points disguised as opinion talk radio".
    Fair enough?

    By Blogger Minister of Propaganda, at 16 January, 2007 09:12  

  • the opinions expressed on this program are not that of the host but rather the Republican party, everything you hear are White House talking points disguised as opinion talk radio".

    Fine with me! Rush and the others can have it said with chipmunk voices or spooky music and have a lot of fun with it.

    By Blogger Chromium, at 16 January, 2007 09:49  

  • in my opinion, the idea behind the Fairness Doctrine is that people aren't intelligent enough to listen to the other side for themselves, or figure out when they are being fed talking points from one side or the other. Unfortunately, that is the truth. people who watch Fox actually believe that it is fair and balanced, but if you look at any of the research done, the majority of their newscasts (even just the reporting) are highly slanted to the right. they also paint democrats in a negative light much, much more often than they do republicans. however, since they use the handle "fair and balanced" people actually believe it. yes, the public is ignorant.

    however, the fairness doctrine is a double-edged sword that will swiftly kill the few liberal programs out there. not because it infringes on what people can say - there is absolutely no stifling of free speech or infringement on the first amendment, as anyone who has studied law will tell you - but it will change who they speak with about issues. they won't be able to parade their cheerleaders on the show anymore and have a big love-fest, they will have to talk to someone that actually disagrees with them. that would really make for much more interesting programming on both sides.

    By Blogger hardcore conservative genious, at 16 January, 2007 10:15  

  • What we will get is NPR all the time with a "Fairness Doctrine". That was talk radio pre-1987. It was liberal and stilted. YOu had a liberal talking or multiple liberals to one Conservative who was continually shorted on "Equal Time".

    With the "Fairness Doctrine", the libs, especially the Minister of Poop, are admitting they are losing in the arena of ideas and can do nothing to win short of veiled censorship.

    By Blogger PCD, at 16 January, 2007 11:03  

  • Oh, what do about programs like The Minister of Poop's? Do we get to write their disclaimer? How does, "Angry white liberals who haven't been taken seriously are on the air demanding you take their loonacy seriously and ignore any other viewpoint." I think that's fair.

    By Blogger PCD, at 16 January, 2007 11:06  

  • What will the liberals do when the conservatives go after the MSM and use the Fairness Doctrine? It will tie things up in court forever.

    The Democrats should do as Mike and Mike say, "Just shut up!!!"

    By Blogger tradersmith, at 16 January, 2007 11:13  

  • See PCD , we don't blindly worship the letter "D". The hosts I say should have the disclaimer are propagandists, we are satirists, who speak the truth by way of satire. We don't sit in the White House with Democratic leadership, we don't influence millions of un-informed listeners, like the drug addled pig man does either. We have a core base of podcasters and live listeners who get what we do. No we do not need a dis-claimer, the propagandists do. The freaks who take "R" over country do.

    cluelesstrader Smith

    The media is not liberal, you are totally fucking brainwashed, if you think this way. Basd news, the flunkies on AM radio brainwashed you.

    By Blogger Minister of Propaganda, at 16 January, 2007 11:24  

  • Can you imagine the fun at Dead Air America if, because of the fairness doctrine, Bob Grant comes out of retirment and lands a show with Dead Air America?

    It might just save their ratings.

    By Blogger --- bjd, at 16 January, 2007 12:43  

  • Misister of Poo,

    I see you squirming. You don't want the Fairness Doctrine applied to you, but you are foaming at the mouth to apply it to others.

    Sure puts you into prospective, a hypocritical propagandist.

    By Blogger PCD, at 16 January, 2007 13:11  

  • I see you squirming

    hysterical, Im not even calling for the fairness doctrine, but I welcome it, you con sissy freaks of nature fear it, because when both sides are side by side 90% of America goes to the left. You desperatly need an illusion of hakf truths and mis-information created bty radical right wing radio. I welcome right wingers to debate, AAR would be great with right wingers on as well, every day they would take a verbal beating with facts. your the coward squirming, I was just calling for a dis-claimer, what your radio icons do is GOP propaganda, not opinion.

    while Grant is a radio legend, famous for being a hatemonger, shrieking loonatic, he is not too bright and would be destroyed in any debate against say Franken, Sedar or Rhodes, again facts destroy rhetoric. All the right offers is rhetoric. Ratings? grant's ratings sucked his last few years, his average liastener was 80+ years old

    By Blogger Minister of Propaganda, at 16 January, 2007 14:10  

  • we don't influence millions of un-informed listeners

    Well duh. You have to have thousands of listeners before you have millions of listeners with which to un-inform. Wake me up when libtalk crosses that threshold...

    By Blogger BF, at 16 January, 2007 16:03  

  • BF

    it is doing it right now. Let's see in NY, AA has several hundred thousand listeners as they do all over America. I do a pod cast and internet show freak. "Liberal Talk" as a whole is growing. Deal with it 12%er. It has crossed that threshold. Americans are rejecting conservatism in the voting booth and on the radio

    By Blogger Minister of Propaganda, at 16 January, 2007 17:00  

  • "Americans are rejecting conservatism in the voting booth and on the radio"

    Okay, Strawman - you said it, now prove it.

    By Blogger SierraSpartan, at 16 January, 2007 20:55  

  • It's outrageous, to be sure, but not unexpected coming from the party of weakness.

    Oh, and there are some possible upsides to the 'fairness doctrine'... (evil grin).

    By Blogger directorblue, at 17 January, 2007 06:35  

  • It must be George Soros....after all, if George Soros funded Air America, as Brian has indicated, surely George Soros is responsible for funding the reinstution of the Fairness Doctrine!

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 17 January, 2007 12:53  

  • Thinkcon, the central issue is that there is no longer a differentiation between news, and opinion....

    Supporting the reinstitution of the Fairness Doctrine is not so much a means of suppression, but an attempt to reestablish balance, which both sides increasingly feel they have a monopoly on.

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 18 January, 2007 08:38  

  • Barrack is in the office now. Hear comes censorship. I think if it applies to one media out let it should apply to all media out lets. Let’s be “Fair”.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10 November, 2008 09:46  

  • That’s right one opinion only is ridiculus. That’s why the Fairness docrtine used to require that both sides of an issue be presented. It’s not trying to impede speech nor is it trying to control what people say. You Republicans and Libertarians jump at the sound of the government trying to do anything (unless it’s to invade another country). The fairness doctrine protects the first amendement because it makes sure that Big money doesn’t control the media. Just because the conservatives can buy out 90% of the radio stations, it doesn’t mean that their view should be heard more.

    The second tenet of the Fairness docrtine was to require that all broadcasting stations report and discuss in soem way about local issues. That means if there’s something wrong that people don’t want to talk about, they have to or else they will lose their licenses.

    By Anonymous Web Promotion, at 03 August, 2010 07:12  

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