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Fairness Doctrine- Why, or Why Not Reinstate it? (+Video)

July 20, 2008

It seems that the Right is protesting too loud against the “Fairness Doctrine”. What does it fear? I have been watching the religious channels more that I ever have, (Now and then I would tune into the CBN to see their spin on the topics of the day, or watch BYU for the sports.). However lately I have noticed (as I flip through the religious section of Direct TV, the push of their petition drives against the “Fairness Doctrine”. Although, I noticed that when I forgot to pay the Direct bill, the channels they leave on are the religious, and a few of the shopping networks.

The reasoning for the religious sector putting up a fight is easy to figure out, they are worried about opposing sides speaking out about abortions, and other words of God. However, the Neo-Cons are worried they will lose the grip they have on the weak mines in the country that live by what the Hannity’s and Limbaugh’s of the world tell them to think.

If there is ever true opposition to what they are putting out on the airwaves, people may just start to see that both parties are messed up, and that they basically represent the same policy. They would see that something else is needed as far as a way to govern the country, away that Truly represents the people, and not the corporations. The system has gone to the fascist style of governing, where the corporations tell the so-called leaders what is needed, and it is mostly in corporation’s interest.

This points to the argument that the media conglomeration is putting up, the cost. They are saying that the cost would be such that they may lose the Rush’s and the Sean’s of the airwaves. (Personally, I feel that might not be too bad.) However I am a true believer of “Truthful free speech” , and that ALL SIDES should receive equal time to air their points.

At one point in our country, we did here both sides over the airwaves. However, in 1985 under Ronald Reagan the “Fairness Doctrine was done away with. (My belief is that they found that the majority of the citizenry was easier to propagandize when the opposition was silenced.) The “Fairness Doctrine” according to a report put out in 1985, by the FCC commissioner Mark Fowler, (A Reagan appointee) That came to the conclusion the “Fairness Doctrine” did not serve the publics interest because stations were not devoting a lot of time to the issues.

In response to the repeal of the fairness doctrine, Congress passed the “Fairness in Broadcasting Act of 1987” to reinstate the doctrine.8 This legislation passed the Senate on April 21, 1987 by a vote of 59-31 and passed the House of Representatives by voice vote on June 3, 1987.

President Reagan vetoed the bill on June 22, 1987. On June 23, 1987, President Reagan’s veto message was referred to the Senate Commerce Committee by a vote of 53-45.Congress adjourned before taking any further action.

Those who are opposed to reinstating the act say that the consumer has shown that this is the programming they want, point to the FCC report in where it shows, how the fairness doctrine worked in practice — it resulted in less, not more, broadcasting content of public interest. However, they do not point out, this is because of the stations and the pubic demanded. They fail to show that the radio stations in major markets are own by a few corporations. One such corporation is Clear Channel, who owns 1194 stations in the United States and 240 stations internationally. It also owns or operates 40 television stations in 25 media markets nationwide. Others include Cumulus (313 in 60 markets), and Citadel Broadcasting. (Owns, 223 stations in 46 media markets in 24 states throughout the country.) For more on who controls the airwaves, Free Press

Fairness Doctrine opponents, use Air America as an example of the way the consumer wants neo-con talk radio. They point to the station filing for Chapter 11 in Bankruptcy Court in 2006. They never give the whole truth on the matter, as explained by Al Franken.

Think Progress

Despite reports the liberal talk network would file for bankruptcy protection by week’s end — that apparently isn’t happening. Franken tells listeners “we’re not in Chapter 11?

If Air America had filed for bankruptcy every time someone rumored it to be doing so, we would have ceased to exist long ago; it may be frustrating to some that this hasn’t happened. No decision has been taken to make any filing of any kind, we are not sure of the source of these rumors and frankly can not respond to every rumor in the marketplace.

What I am getting at here is that, with so many getting their information from the MSM, and the cable news stations, who have to fill 24 hours with news, the Fairness Doctrine will make sure the bias on either side is answered. It will help when the O Riley’s and the Hannity’s fudge the facts, (Just to make the White House look good) or the Olbermann’s, and the Rhodes, bypass something that makes the voting record of their candidate look bad, there will be someone or something there to fill in the missing words.

Please view the video below, Denis Kucinich hit’s the nial on the head when he points out, That in the 20 years since the Fairness Doctrine was done away with we have seen 50 media companies shrink to 6.”


ps. I am for reinstating the Fairness Doctrine and feel you should, call, email, or write your representative and let them know you would like to hear both sides.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Dan permalink
    January 25, 2009 4:19 am

    I am not one who would favor cesorship of the media. I do believe that the American public is sophisticated and intellegent enough to make up their own mind as to what is or is not the truth. Please give us credit for seeking out the truth. Today one can get the answers by checking out the internet and after weighing both sides decide what they chose to believe as truth. We must have done just that November 4, 2008 otherwise January 20, 2009 would never have taken place.


  2. August 14, 2008 11:23 pm

    So, Phil, which network is guilty of “The War Of The Worlds” as reailty? Is it CBS, NBC, or ABC or all three?

    The cable news channels, of course, would not be subject to the so-called ‘Fairness Doctrine” as they are not broadcast over public airwaves.

    Most importantly, the U.S. Constitution specifically prohibits any law that abridges the freedom of the press:
    “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; …”


  3. Phil Agur permalink
    August 12, 2008 5:48 pm

    Censorship comes when a station can choose to broadcast “The War of the Worlds” as reality 24/7 and never be required to supply or allow journalistic truth to be broadcast of their station.

    Depending on how weak or strong the intermingled stream of propaganda is listeners become brain washed. The listeners made a bad choice when they elected to listen in the first place, and maybe that’s freedom of choice, but now they are hooked on the daily War of the Worlds soap opera masquerading as news.

    Now that the listeners freedom of thought has been subdued and the election cycle is in its final phase the propaganda spicket is wide open. Sure some may realize what they are hearing no longer resembles truth but many have long past the point where they have the freedom to change the station. They are just hooked and it is very painful to admit you’ve been duped.

    It is not censorship but free speech to require that the public air waves in America be protected 100% owner mandated theme reporting.


  4. July 22, 2008 5:37 am

    Mr. Biermann makes a very important point. An unintended consequence of The Fairness Doctrine may well be that “free” over-the-air media will fade into irrelevance. The losers in this experiment, of course, will be those who cannot afford to pay for their sources of information.

    As recent as three decades ago, Americans were essentially limited to choosing among only three networks for receiving their broadcast news, and some markets were only served by one. There was virtually no independent cable news, no satellite, no internet, and everything centered on NYC viewpoints. We’re now a solar system away from that small sphere of news outlets even with the shrinking media control.

    Newspaper publication ownership is certainly more problematic… but they appear to be on the verge of going out of business ( some would say victims of their own arrogance). Thirty years ago most Americans were limited to only their own local newspapers. But today you can easily subscribe to those from all of the big cities as well as your own local papers, and you can even get the small independent paper from that little town four states over if you want.

    It is a fact that the media conglomerates are growing. It is also a fact that our choices have never been so vast.

    Bottom line for me, though, is that ‘The Fairness Doctrine” strikes me as being nothing more than a fancy name for censorship. Censorship, no matter how noble its intent, is not an acceptable practice in These United States of America.


  5. July 21, 2008 2:38 pm

    Last quick thought. The Fairness Doctrine will only apply to “over-the-air” facilities like radio and broadcast TV. They will have no impact on pay cable/satellite stations, like CNN, FOXNews, CNBC, MSNBC.


  6. July 21, 2008 2:32 pm

    As a broadcaster, I can tell you that the Fairness Doctrine had nothing to do with the shrinking number of media companies.

    The updated Telecommunications Act of 1996 ( during the Clinton Administration is what changed most of the ownership rules that have changed much of the media and broadcast industry landscape.

    The problem with the “so-called” fairness doctrine is it won’t just silence conservative talk radio, but even the folks at Air America will be entrapped in the sinister aspects of these rules.

    Rather than try to comply with all the intricacies of this act, Radio Stations will simply pull the plug on all political speech, and watch theirs and your First Amendment Rights be flushed down the toilet.

    Rush Limbaugh and Randi Rhodes will find their programs replaced with health and garden shows, car clinics, and colon cleaner infomercials.


  7. July 21, 2008 11:43 am

    Al, you make valid points, and we basically agree. They all bend the facts to fit what they are pushing. My problem is that the media control is getting smaller. Less owners in more markets. I don’t know if you know of the F.C.C.’s recent ruling that allows moguls like Ruppert Murdock to buy more media in one city, (and market) such as papers, radio and television stations. I would like to thank-you for your well worded response, and factual. Although I am not swayed .


  8. July 20, 2008 7:55 pm

    I am opposed to any attempt seeking to legislate fairness. “Fairness” is an entirely subjective term and, in political settings, can almost never be quantified in such a way that is agreeable to all.

    In your own words you make the claim that O’Reilly and Hannity “fudge the facts.” Really? Says who, you? OK, but then so does Olberman, Matthews, and Dobbs. They are all, after all, commentators and their trade is communicating their points of view through words and concepts. To you or me their words may indeed be “fudging” but to someone else those same words may merely be a restatement of what has already been concluded to be the true gist of the matter. Sometimes you and I will differ on whether O’Reilly has spoken the truth while other times you and I will scream at Hannity in harmony. I trust myself to police these arguments for me; I do not trust you to.

    In a perfect world such a doctrine could serve to ensure that the public receive all sides of the issues. In our imperfect world, though, it is far more likely that fallible minds would use it to give credence to one side over another and result in the worse possible scenario which is government-sanctioned unfairness.

    Finally, in the twenty years in which we have seen the number of media companies shrink we have also seen the proliferation of an almost endless source of information through the internet.


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