Last updated: February 21, 2008 - 8:06am
AIR WARS BREAK OUT OVER FAIRNESS DOCTRINE
[SOURCE: Broadcasting&Cable, AUTHOR: John Eggerton]
Fresh off its successful campaign against the immigration bill, talk radio has taken aim at the fairness doctrine, a defunct FCC regulation that required broadcast licensees to present issues of public importance in a balanced manner. Conservative talkers have seized upon -- and amplified -- a burgeoning legislative debate over reinstating the doctrine, making it a hot topic on radio and major television news programs. Indeed, the FCC’s decision to scrap the doctrine in 1987 is widely credited with sparking the rise of conservative talk radio. But Republicans like Rep. Greg Walden (Ore.) argue that the predominance of right-leaning radio is a simple case of economics. Within the past two weeks, three prominent Democratic senators, including John Kerry (Mass.), have called for either reinstating the doctrine or at least looking into doing so. Sen Kerry ran head-on into the issue in 2004, when he was a presidential candidate and Sinclair stations were preparing to air a documentary that was critical of his Vietnam service. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) joined Kerry’s call for reinstatement while Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) said she was looking into it. Soon after, Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), a former talk-radio host, introduced a bill to deny the FCC the “resources or authority” to reinstate the fairness doctrine in fiscal 2008. Democrats, led by Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.), suggested that the amendment was a red herring meant to provide sound bites for “yap yap TV” and conservative talkers who had ginned up the issue. Clearly in a Shakespearean mood, Rep Obey dismissed the amendment as “much ado about nothing” and “sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
* Fairness Doctrine hammered 309-115
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