Black Group Slams Proposed Resurrection of Radio "Fairness Doctrine"
For Release: July 19, 2007
Contact: David Almasi at 202/543-4110 x11
The Bush Administration is commended for announcing that it would veto any legislation reinstating the so-called "Fairness Doctrine." The Administration's announcement came following media reports of support for reimposing the Fairness Doctrine by Senators Dianne Feinstein, Dick Durbin, Barbara Boxer, Hillary Clinton, and others.
Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) intends to re-introduce legislation "to restore the Fairness Doctrine" in coming weeks. Hinchey's "Media Ownership Reform Act (H.R. 3302)," better known as MORA, had 16 co-sponsors in the 109th Congress, but got nowhere due to GOP control.
"It's the 'Hush Rush' crowd at it again, and it has nothing to do with fairness. They are simply trying to shut down popular radio programs because they disagree with them," said Project 21 Fellow Deneen Borelli. "The Fairness Doctrine is unfair to those who believe in limited government and a free market. If liberal talk shows fail to attract listeners and sponsors, as is the case here, then the problem must lie with their message."
Introduced in 1949 when there were relatively few broadcast outlets, the Federal Communications Commission administered the Fairness Doctrine to ensure that no single political viewpoint dominated the airwaves. In 1985, the FCC determined that "a multiplicity of voices in the marketplace assured diversity of opinion" and Fairness Doctrine was no longer achieving its intended goals and was possibly creating a "chilling effect" on free speech. The FCC rescinded the Fairness Doctrine in 1987.
Recently, liberal lawmakers and their special interest supporters have raised the possibility of reinstituting the Fairness Doctrine because there are more conservative talk shows than liberal ones among profit-driven radio stations. FCC chairman Kevin Martin has publicly opposed bringing the doctrine back, telling Broadcasting and Cable magazine that the absence of it "has made a lot of opportunities like talk radio."
By an overwhelming vote of 309 to 115, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment on June 28 prohibiting the FCC from reinstating the Fairness Doctrine. An attempt to introduce similar legislation in the U.S. Senate on July 13, however, was procedurally blocked by Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL). Senator Durbin last month declared, "it's time to reintroduce the Fairness Doctrine."
Allan B. Hubbard, the director of the White House's National Economic Council, issued a statement on July 13 stating that "the case for the Fairness Doctrine is weaker than ever" and its resurrection "would muzzle political debate and free speech." Hubbard also said President Bush would veto any legislation reinstating the doctrine."The Fairness Doctrine is inherently un-American," said Project 21’s Geoffrey Moore. "This will do nothing but stifle free speech and prop up a product - liberal talk radio - that cannot succeed on its own."
Project 21’s Mark Jordan added: "All of this discussion about the so-called Fairness Doctrine reveals the true character of the liberal/socialist movement. The success of conservative talk radio - which, by the way, is the only real alternative media - has forced the left to face the fact that the majority of listeners aren't buying their hate-America pessimism that permeates the establishment media. The abysmal failure of their own Air America network is proof that faith, optimism and patriotism is what sells in the free market."
Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11 or Project21@nationalcenter.org, or visit Project 21's website at http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html.
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