Saturday, November 8, 2008

The un-fairness of the Fairness Doctrine

It's not uncommon for an Administration to silently introduce and pass controversial policies during a crisis. The public is so consumed with the crisis that they think any bill or Act is much less meaningful than the emergency at hand. So they don’t research what’s on the table, they don’t pay attention to what Congress is doing and they don’t take the time to write to their Senator or Congressman. They’re focused on their families and the how the crisis affects them. That’s exactly what Congress, the Senate and the Administration expect you to do, and this time is no different.

The issue now is the Fairness Doctrine. This is controversial legislation that, if passed, would regulate free speech on the radio. The Fairness Doctrine was first enforced in 1949, when the FCC regulated AM Radio. It was repealed in 1987 when the FCC deemed it to be unconstitutional. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is the champion of attempting to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine. With the Super Majority in place, it most likely will be reinstated if we don’t voice our concerns to our Representatives.

The act as it was in place previously required:

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.

Back in 1949, the doctrine focused on radio because that was the main media outlet at the time. It was abused politically throughout its existence and would no doubt again be abused. Presumably, the proposed reinstatement of the doctrine would mainly apply to radio as well, although it might be broadened to include satellite radio, FM radio and possibly the internet. Simply put, they want to silence conservative talk radio: the only media outlet where the Right currently has a true voice. Conservative talk radio has flourished since the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine and Democrats are threatened by it. With the doctrine in place, the government will be able to deem certain stations or personalities “too conservative” and by law they must present the other side.

Beyond conservative talk radio, this is a blatant violation of our right to free speech. There are no two ways about it: the Fairness Doctrine proposes to regulate free speech.

Many have speculated that this is one of the bills President Obama plans to pass within the first 100 days of office.

Obama has said that he’s not interested in the Fairness Doctrine. He has repeatedly said that when he takes office, he’ll address the economic crisis immediately. Why would the President-elect say he’s not interested in one of the most controversial pieces of legislation that has already been proven once to be unconstitutional? The answer: to keep the people focused on the crisis at hand. He’ll let the Super Majority do his dirty work for him and push the bill to his desk, then he’ll sign it.

In my opinion, the Fairness Doctrine is nothing less than an attempt at a civilized coup.

Regardless of whether you’re Democrat or Republican, it’s not the government’s job to decide what’s “fair,” or true, or false, or negative, or positive- to broadcast on the air. We live in a free society where the cornerstone is free speech no matter what that speech is.

Our 1st Amendment states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Please contact your Representative:

and your Senator:

to tell them that the Fairness Doctrine is unconstitutional and violates our 1st Amendment right. We need to focus on what the Administration tries to get past us during this crisis.

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