Skip to main content

Let's start a discussion about reviving the Fairness Doctrine to re-introduce the commons and the idea that we tell the corporations what to do!

A few years ago, in a popular diary about the Fairness Doctrine, I wrote,

This "Fairness Doctrine" requirement was intended to protect the public from the possibility of moneyed interests buying up all of the information sources, leaving the public hearing only their viewpoint.

I think that this may be an opportunity - if done right - to reintroduce the public to the idea of the commons: that the public owns the resources of the country, and the laws, and has the power to tell corporations what to do instead of the other way around.  If we can project that into the discussion, it leads straight to a discussion of the tight concentration of ownership of the media by a few corporations.  What better issues than something called "Fairness" and that so clearly can be demonstrated.  There just are no voices of labor and other non- corporate opinions on the airwaves.  The public is ready to hear that.

The demise of the Fairness Doctrine paved the way for this media consolidation, because issues around media consolidation were no longer discussed in the media.  And that's the problem now, as well, because it will be very difficult to get a good, honest, all-sides discussion of the commons and the Fairness Doctrine and media consolidation started -- because of media consolidation and lack of a Fairness Doctrine.

So do we let the corporations just win this?  Reagan unilaterally scrapped public control of the airwaves, vetoed it when Congress voted to bring it back, and then the Republicans filibustered the majority in following years every time the Congress tried again.  Does that mean the Congress should stop trying and we should all just let the matter drop, and leave the public thinking that corporations have the right to control the airwaves?

Or does renewing the fight revive public discussion and understanding of these issues, leading to increased understanding of the need for Net Neutrality so big corporations can't just block the public from even seeing union and progressive websites?

So I think reviving this fight is strategic, preparing the public for upcoming fights on all issues of public vs corporate control of public resources and decision-making.

In 96 I wrote,

Restoring the Fairness Doctrine would open up America's "marketplace of ideas." It would help to restore civility to our public discourse. It would help restore our democracy.

I say it is time to restore the Fairness doctrine.

Originally posted to davej on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 10:56 AM PST.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (20+ / 0-)

    Tip: In a democracy we tell them what to do, not the other way around.

    -- Seeing The Forest -- Who is our economy FOR, anyway?

    by davej on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 10:56:53 AM PST

    •  I don't get it. Reinstating the Fairness Doctrine (11+ / 0-)

      violates the First Amendment HOW?

      At this time, with right-wing control of America's public air waves, it is the liberal POV that is suppressed, IMO. Liberal callers to hatie-radio shows are interrupted, shouted down, villified, their calls recorded and distorted for later use, and their names turned into perjoratives.

      As things now stand, the opportunity to rebut crazy wingnut points, once an hour for a few minutes, in NO WAY decreases the wingnuts' rights to state their crazy points in the first place.

    •  Oh God (9+ / 0-)

      If it violated the first amendment, why was it around so long?

      Way to eat up the Limbaugh talking points.

      Don't donate to the DSCC in 2010 - they'll give your money to Harry Reid. Donate to the candidates instead!

      by arcticshadow on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 11:08:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Air America is the way to eat up Limbaugh's (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        A Citizen

        talking points. People have the choice of listening to one or both.  The Fairness Doctrine can not mandate that for evcery rightwing station an equally leftwing station must operate in the same bandwidth.

        Like it or not this is still a market driven capitalist society and if people want it different they can go to Cuba or anywhere else where the state dictates the message, and that is actually much of the planet.

        •  Way to go! (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          leolabeth, BlueHead

          So you not only spew republican talking points about love it or leave it but you throw in that all nationalization equals some form of Communism - repeating the troll sensibledemocrat.

          Certainly can mandate what is on the air, Fairness doctrine did that for over fifty years and was in no way like Cuba nor is BBC like the Cuban system.

          And No many markets do not have access to air america so there is no choice on radio in those areas hence no freedom to listen to left wing radio.

          Is Pacifica now available in Oklahoma over the radio?

          "I can't read! I sign my name with an X! I once tried to make mashed potatoes with laundry detergent! I think I voted for Nader! NADER!" TJ

          by thethinveil on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 01:06:01 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  First Amendment is a HUGE Threat to the Planet (9+ / 0-)

      --as framed in its frontier conception.

      If The East India Tea Company and 2-3 hypothetical peers had owned the village greens, town meeting halls, public streets and print shops that served 95% of the colonists --as today's media congloms do-- there is NO WAY IN HELL the framers would have written something so dangerously feudal as the 1st Amendment that protects our congloms from the people.

      Every major issue facing the American people and the world is magnified significantly by the fact that for half a century the perpetrators who own 95% access to the electorate have been protected by their First Amendment speech and press rights against the peoples' and the planets' interests, against democracy and against reason.

      The diarist is spot on about the need for the concept of an information and communication "commons."

      Now, the problem is, how do we take the genius in its original time of the 1st Amendment rights, retain them to the maximum for the people, and revise them in an enduring general way independent of changing technology, without allowing them to be so entirely co-opted by special interest as they have been in the industrial and information ages?

      The Fairness Doctrine to me is barely less primitive than the 1st Amendment.

      A concept I've toyed with is to generalize the "commons" concept by nationalizing most or all of the mainstream distribution infrastructure. The "public airwaves" arrived in this condition, much like the high seas, and the Internet arose this way which is the reason the people gained enough voice these past 2 elections to edge out the Republicans after decades of disastrous rule.

      But cable and satellite broadcast infrastructure ought to be nationalized as well, my suggestion.

      Then "pubic airwaves" commons concepts could be applied to maintaining access to the mainstream for information from the small and for the public's business such as election campaigns. We could enforce market share limits across all the mainstream realtime media.

      That way we can maintain the original 1st Amendment in terms of content, while protecting society from having it applied to lock viewpoints and the people in general from the information high seas.

      The whole thing's going to need a lot of out-of-box thinking. The one caution we have is the American track record.

      The United States has now triggered 2 global depressions in no small part because of the inability of sane warnings to reach the people before tipping points were passed. We're galloping down the path of destroying the habitability of the global climate again in no small part because of that same inability.

      The communication and information environment we inherited has proven itself a serious threat to the world, the world needs it to change.

      In bedrock, fundamental ways.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 11:15:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thank God for the 1st Amendment (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        divineorder, thestructureguy

        It protects our freedoms from people like Gooserock.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 11:29:58 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I agree with you (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        thethinveil

        in almost every respect.

        Boy, do I need a stimulus package.

        by Kevvboy on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 11:36:20 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  We aren't seeing the tough subjects being tackled (4+ / 0-)

        very often these days. We get entertained instead. I grew up in the 50's and 60's the golden age of news really. I remember how surprised I was to find out Walter Cronkite was a Democrat. In those days a news caster's political bent wasn't apparent like it can be today. Since his retirement he has consistently made his views known, not bad for the most trusted man in America (which means Republicans thought he was one of theirs too.)

        Remember the movie Good Night and Good Luck a few years back? Do you remember Fred Friendly? He really personifies for me that golden age. We have Public Access TV because of Fred Friendly and while in some places it might not be exactly as he invisioned, it is a good thing.  

        Too many people have forgotten what it is supposed to be.

      •  so how do you propose paying for the (0+ / 0-)

        distribution systems, not to mention the programming? by tax payer forced contributions?  why should i voluntarily have my tax dollars pay to have Limbaugh spew his crap over the public airwaves?  which is what nationlization would do, then you have to allow everyone equal access/  is this your solution?

        •  The BBC, arguably the best news service... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          thethinveil

          in the world, exists because of U.K. taxpayers, well technically buyers of radios and tellies in the U.K.

          I am glad to have NPR and would be gladder for something better even if my annual donation were a tax.

          I've always wanted to be somebody, but I see now I should have been more specific. -- Lily Tomlin

          by leolabeth on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 01:25:18 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I am British born and bred and came to the USA in (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            pollyusa

            the late 50's where i went to work as a documentary television film producer in the early 60's, working for all three networks as well as a multitude of other outfits with film and television divisions such as Time/Life, PBS, and abroad for the BBC, London Weekend Television and a lot more.

            In the UK the BBC radio and television is funded by the government from license fees on the use of radios and televisions. It is a crime to own one without a license. In the US NPR, PBS and other entities such as PRI, Pacifica etc are funded by listener donations and taxpayers grants basically.

            The FCC is responsible for allocation of licenses to broadcsast over the airwaves. Cable and satellite have other means of broadcasting as does online broaddcasting, whichc in general is not governed by FCC rules in totality, which is why both language and programming cntent is subject to market forces rather than government control.

            IN the UK other television channels ITT, Grnada, Channel 4, Thames etc, Skye owned by Murdoch, are all funded as commecial entities like the cable and satellite channels in the us.  CSPAN which many here watch is financed by casble contributions and broadcsasts Congress, House and senate proceedingds as well as a whole bunch of other worthy projects.

  •  Wasn't this diaried this morning? nt (2+ / 0-)

    "Inside my heart is breaking. My makeup may be flaking, but my smile still stays on." Queen

    by owilde69 on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 11:00:10 AM PST

  •  FD "cure" is worse than the disease, IMO.... (7+ / 0-)

    In case you haven't noticed, our ideas have been doing pretty well lately.

    If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible...tonight is your answer.

    by Azdak on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 11:06:52 AM PST

    •  Last night (5+ / 0-)

      Driving home, found a talk radio station, and it was a non-stop horrorshow of hate against Obama, rants against the stimulus, and quavering-voiced callers frightened out of their minds at the "multi-generational socialist government takeover."

      This station only carries right wing crazies. Limbaugh is the fairest of the bunch. And listeners to this station are fed a continuous stream of lies, hate, and outright falsehoods, presented by supposed authorities and professors.

      The Fairness Doctrine should be applied to public airwaves when particular stations offer only a single political point of view. Same goes for liberal radio - such as it is - the right can have 5 or 10 minutes in any 12-hour period to rebut.

      What's hard for some progressives to grasp is that there are areas of the country in which there are zero liberal media outlets, and the local airwaves and newspapers are all strict hardline right-wing. The Internet does not penetrate such markets to a reparative extent.

      The problem isn't seen in places like NY, LA, SF, etc. But in Alabama, parts of Texas, Wyoming, etc., huge problem.

      Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

      by The Raven on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 11:43:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Fairness Doctrine (6+ / 0-)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/...

    this is an incredibly simplistic and distorted view of what the so-called 'Fairness Doctrine' did or didn't do.

    It was basically the de-regulation of media ownership, I am not certain but i believe it was under Clinton's TeleCommunications Act, spearheaded by Edward Markey, that gave electronic and print media more monopoly that sealed the deal?  might have been earlier in the late 80's, don't remember without researching it, sorry.

    This is an incredibly complex question and many argue that the public has unprecedented access to a wide variety of opinions. It is their problem if they are not excercising that right.  Let's just hope that the internet doesn't fall victim to restricted access.

    You'd better be careful what you wish for. One man's fairness is another man's restricion.

    •  Telecommunications Act of 1996 (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      thethinveil, graycat13

      http://en.wikipedia.org/...

      the advent of cable and satellite persuaded the legilsators that in fact there was a wide spectrum of perspectives available through new technology.

      People need to take personal responsibility to provide themselves with that variety, if they care about 'Fairness' anyway.

      •  To make like (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cedwyn, island in alabama

        Readily Available media

        And

        Media you have to seek out

        as if they are level playing fields is absurd.

        Many cannot afford computers still, not everyone has the internet (you have to have a bank account for example - keep this in mind that in many poor communities they use check cashing services,) and you have to juggle a couple jobs or kids or other day to day things that don't permit such curiosity.

        How do we get people interested if it  isn't even on their radar. If they listened to the radio many could believe that their opinion isn't worth a damn so why look further into politics.

        "I can't read! I sign my name with an X! I once tried to make mashed potatoes with laundry detergent! I think I voted for Nader! NADER!" TJ

        by thethinveil on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 11:29:08 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  This is a spurious argument (0+ / 0-)

          you can't get people interested if they are not interested!  most people, even those you refer to as 'poor communities' have a great deal of curiosity regarding their issues.

          This is a kind of reverse moral superiority that i find quite strange.  Just because people live in poor communities doesn't mean they are not activists, to the contrary, at least that is my experience in a long life living in dis-advantage communities.

          Americans need to read more and learn more about how their neighbours live and perform courageous acts of activism all over the world.

          •  Whats with all the assumptions. (0+ / 0-)

            I broke off talking about poor communities after the second paragraph.

            Second - I was both an organizer, I lived in a poor community in oakland, and third I used a check cashing place and was unable to sign up for broadband myself so I am speaking from first hand experience.

            YES there are people out there who think that politics don't concern them and YES that has a lot to do with the available media.

            No it isn't only poor people who feel that way but many other who are geographically confined - you like places that don't even have bookstores or high speed internet access.

            "I can't read! I sign my name with an X! I once tried to make mashed potatoes with laundry detergent! I think I voted for Nader! NADER!" TJ

            by thethinveil on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 11:46:20 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I meant you know like places that don't even . . (0+ / 0-)

              sorry typo.

              "I can't read! I sign my name with an X! I once tried to make mashed potatoes with laundry detergent! I think I voted for Nader! NADER!" TJ

              by thethinveil on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 11:50:15 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I understand you perspective. My point is (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                VClib

                that today Americans have far more access, even in geographically remote areas of the country, to the internet, to their local radio stations, almost every remote place has a community station to access, most will carry alternative programming such as Democracy Now, Alternative Radio etc, as well as NPR, PRI and other centrist programming.

                Practivcally evey remote community has access to a local newspaper. Most have a library with internet access and most people, even poor people these days have television, or at least access to places that does have it, not all the time, not every minute of the day, but enough so staying informed is possible.

                True some, maybe even statiscally too many fall through the cracks. The point is that no, the playing fields are not level, but they are a hell of a lot more accessible than they were when i arrived on thse shores in the late fifties.

                There is absolutely no way of providing equal access to everyone, that is the spurious nature of the argument. There is no such thing as total equality and there never will be.

                If people wish to get involved they have an infinity of ways today they didn't have even a decade or so ago.  They have to make the effort.

                The grassrotts nature of the recent election proved that.  People  could go and hear the truth they chose to believe in form the candifdates themselves and today if they attend local council meetings and hearings they can do the same thing.  Nobody is forcing people to listen to Rush Limbaugh, that is the absilute fallacy of this argument.

                •  Level Playing fields not a worthy cause. (0+ / 0-)

                  Just because playing fields can never be entirely level doesn't mean we shouldn't aspire to it.

                  And no, there are still communities without broadband - what do think Obama has been talking about -  I just moved from an area that does not have high speed and I still unable to get access to the highest speed comcast normally has available.

                  Many Libraries are severely underfunded and often only open a few hours during the day when people who work cannot get access to them.

                  There are numerous ways we could improve even these basic points of access to information.

                  "I can't read! I sign my name with an X! I once tried to make mashed potatoes with laundry detergent! I think I voted for Nader! NADER!" TJ

                  by thethinveil on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 12:14:04 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I live in a remote rural community in (0+ / 0-)

                    northern New Mexico and can get all the information I need if i make the effort to do so by the means i outlined.  

                    As Obama says, you can't let the perfect be hostage to the essential, or the other way around. Hopefully things will improve incrementally. No one is asking you not to lobby for better access for everyone, it is spurious to maintain that because a few cannot get access we need to return to a failed doctrine.  Or maybe that is not what you specifically arguing?. You are making such generalizations it is hard to tell.

                    I NEVER said level playing fields is NOT a worthy goal. I maintain that level playing fields are rarely attainable because someone will always move the goalposts.  That's life!!!!

                    •  How was it a failed doctrine? (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      leolabeth

                      It was only vetoed by Reagan, after his FCC took it off the books - after an FCC chairman in 1974 called it essential to democracy.

                      if you want to learn more about library funding go here:

                      Library Funding and ALA

                      Here is where US stacks up with some of the other developed nations:

                      America thus needs to focus on big broadband—very high-capacity networks that are capable of delivering a minimum of 100 megabits per second (Mbps) of transmission speed to every home, business, and public institution. This goal is both realistic and necessary. Japan has already deployed high-capacity fiber networks to the home, advertising speeds of almost 100 Mbps. France and South Korea are making 45 Mbps capabilities available to their citizens today. At present, the United States lags behind these countries; to catch up, it will need to do more than build, by 2010, the same quality of networks that others are deploying today

                      I believe it is you who is making the essential the enemy of the perfect. You were the one to say, or imply that a level playing field is impossible so why try.

                      "I can't read! I sign my name with an X! I once tried to make mashed potatoes with laundry detergent! I think I voted for Nader! NADER!" TJ

                      by thethinveil on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 12:39:52 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  That is a total distortion of what I said (0+ / 0-)

                        I NEVER said or implied that because the playing fields are NOT level it is impossible to change anything so why try,  That is utterly distorted and intellectually dishonest to state that I said that.

                        I'm through discussing the question with you, you obviously will say anything to make your point.

                        This discussion is exactly why it is impossible to have an honest and open debate because one or other of the debaters starts imputing words and positions the other never claimed. You see it every minute of every day on the radio and the television and it is a Limbaugh like Republican tactic.

                        Read every single one of my comments and block where i said that one should not try to level the playing fields.

                        •  Here let people decide. (0+ / 0-)

                          True some, maybe even statiscally too many fall through the cracks. The point is that no, the playing fields are not level, but they are a hell of a lot more accessible than they were when i arrived on thse shores in the late fifties.

                          There is absolutely no way of providing equal access to everyone, that is the spurious nature of the argument. There is no such thing as total equality and there never will be.

                          You ridicule the ideal and no where do you call for people to change matters bring us closer to that ideal. You can basically assume you are calling it a lost cause with the way you wrote it.

                          But good for you, you corrected yourself.

                          "I can't read! I sign my name with an X! I once tried to make mashed potatoes with laundry detergent! I think I voted for Nader! NADER!" TJ

                          by thethinveil on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 01:13:00 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

    •  Yep. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bugscuffle, graycat13

      The notion that the public is just a bunch of dunderheaded idiots that will swallow whatever is thrown at them lies at the heart of the Fairness Doctrine and is profoundly antithetical to the notion of democracy.

      We are building a team that is continuously being built. - Sarah Palin

      by burrow owl on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 11:19:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The only problem with the fairness doctrine... (11+ / 0-)

    ...is that somebody has to decide what "fair" is.

    And I don't trust that person.

    •  Fox News Channel (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      annominous, thethinveil

      could not exist as at present, under the Fairness Doctrine.  For every hour of a Bill O'Reilly, they would have to air a contrasting opinion.

      This had the salutary effect, back in the day, of promoting a more balanced tv news product than we have now.  No one would stake out an hour to rant on a conservative theme, because they would have to grant an hour to a liberal.

      Boy, do I need a stimulus package.

      by Kevvboy on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 11:17:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That sounds like a negative to me. (5+ / 0-)

        I don't trust any doctrine that would wholly uproot particular channels.  

        We are building a team that is continuously being built. - Sarah Palin

        by burrow owl on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 11:21:00 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Neither could MSNBC. (3+ / 0-)

        Which gives three hours a night to liberals.  More, if you count the Matthews rebroadcast.  And if you think the the GOP wouldn't use this as an excuse to come aftewr the internet your crazy.

        •  No, that is equal time you are thinking (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          soccergrandmom, annominous

          of News would be news and much of what is on cable news today including their news would be labeled clearly as commentary and opinion.

          •  Exactly. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cedwyn, annominous

            And that is just the kind of distinction the Fairness Doctrine used to force the networks to provide.

            If they present an hour of Republican opinion, they will be forced to present an hour of Democratic rebuttal.  What will happen is how it used to be - both sides will be presented in every show.

            We had much better, more objective television journalism under the Fairness Doctrine.  Today we have a lot of opinion pretending to be news.

            Boy, do I need a stimulus package.

            by Kevvboy on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 11:28:02 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  People get confused because they really (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              thethinveil

              don't know what the Fairness Doctrine is about. Altho I am a bit surprised people wouldn't educate themselves before discounting the idea. In the beginning the air waves were given freely to serve the public good. A network any station radio or TV for that matter took it seriously or they would lose their license.

              I know the confusion about equal time comes from this, from WIKI.

              The Fairness Doctrine had two basic elements: It required broadcasters to devote some of their airtime to discussing controversial matters of public interest, and to air contrasting views regarding those matters. Stations were given wide latitude as to how to provide contrasting views: It could be done through news segments, public affairs shows, or editorials. The doctrine did not require equal time for opposing views but required that contrasting viewpoints be presented.[3]

              The Fairness Doctrine ended under Reagan in 1987.

            •  Air America failed, get over it n/t (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              bugscuffle
            •  we also basically had three free television (0+ / 0-)

              networks, ABC, CBC and NBC, four if you count PBS. Today the technology has increased access multi-fold, not only over radio and television, but cyberspace, and satellite, plus private sector community funded by donation channels like Link TV, Current TV, Free Speech tv etc. where many people get their information. It was this explosion of technology that basically caused the demise of the Fairness Doctrine.

              It would be a political decision to re-instate it and may be possible with a Democratic controlled Congress, i don't honestly know whre they legislators come down on the matter.  Check Louis Slaughter's bill on Fairness in Broadcasting from 2005.

        •  They are coming after the internet (0+ / 0-)

          Although it's Congressman Waxman that's reportedly doing it, not the GOP. Waxman reportedly plans to revive Fairness Doctrine, include internet

          A bad idea all around - as others have said, who decides what's "fair?" And if Rush spends an hour talking about football (which he does occasionally), does that count? I mean, he's a Pittsburgh fan, I'm a Raider fan, so should I be the one who get's to respond?

          And what about Dr. Laura? She certainly opines on and discusses "cultural" or "social" issues, but I don't know that she's ever uttered a "political" word (vote for X, initiative Y is bad, I can't believe the government is doing Z) on-air. Does she need to be countered?

          Whoever might be given such power is going to be able to effectively silence anyone they don't like, should they chose. Not terribly consistent with the First Amendment.

          Sean Parnell
          President
          Center for Competitive Politics
          http://www.campaignfreedom.org
          sparnell@campaignfreedom.org

      •  You want to apply it cable?! (0+ / 0-)

        On what grounds?  Why not the internet, or anything that is delvered by the United States Postal Service?

        •  Postal Service (0+ / 0-)

          already IS required to deliver everything sent.  

          The Fairness Doctrine was intended to keep a few corporations from buying up all the radio and TV stations and then presenting only their side on issues.  This is exactly what has happened, and it is time to revive the Fairness Doctrine.

          -- Seeing The Forest -- Who is our economy FOR, anyway?

          by davej on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 02:34:51 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Not true (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cedwyn, bugscuffle, divineorder

        The Fairness Doctrine would not apply to CATV. Fox News would not have to have someone who had a different view from Bill O'Reilly and give them equal time. The Fairness Doctrine could only apply to public airwaves which are AM/FM radio and broadcast television. It does not apply to cable TV or satellite TV or radio.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 11:27:15 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Fox News Channel (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MattR, VClib

        According to some folks, Fox News Channel already is "fair and balanced".  They have Bill O'Reilley, who I suppose they would consider a right-leaning independent, and he's balanced by that noted liberal Greta Van Susteren. And Glen Beck is balanced by Geraldo Rivera. As for Sean Hannity, they just need to find a new Colmes and there's a show with built-in balance. Maybe they could get Susan Estrich.

        Of course, as others have pointed out, cable programming wouldn't be included anyway, but I think the general principle stands.  Different people have different ideas of what "fair and balanced" means.

        •  And that is why my #1 argument against the FD (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Bill W

          is Alan Colmes.  Fox News will never allow a true opposition opinion to be aired.  If it is not Colmes it will be other faux liberals providing fairness (or would that be balance).  

          Also, they will just manage to frame the debate in such a way that the contrasting positions that they present will still encompass the right side of the political spectrum.  An analogy would be before "the surge" in Iraq.  The debate was always frmaed as was should we surge or not.  They were offering contrasting positions.  But the position of many Americans (that we should withdraw) was rarely mentioned.

          •  I see them doing the opposite. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Bill W

            I dont really think Alan Colmes is much different than MSNBC types.
            What I see Fox doing is putting your average conservative pundit on during a 3 way interview and the opposing voice is usually a complete nut from Code Pink, PETA, International ANSWER or one of those other fringe lunatic groups to make Democrats sound like bleeding-heart liberals.

          •  Fox News Channel is a cable and satellite service (0+ / 0-)

            and even if the FD were re-instated it would not affect Hannity and Colmes, O'Reilly or any of them.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/...

            You need to know what you are arguing for before arguing for it.  To argue that all broadcast is 'nationalised' is ridiculous in a free market society. If that is what you are arguing against then do that. Be honest and know the subject.

            What many here are arguing is the fairness of not having a level broadcast playing field in every corner of the nation.  That is very different and even with a Democratic majority politically impossible.

            It's been an interesting debate though and i hope some people have learned a little about the subject matter.

  •  Hey, if the right is going to scream about it... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kevvboy, annominous

    ...why not give them something to scream about?

  •  Agree:The Public Airwaves must not be monopolized (3+ / 0-)


    We have today a one-viewpoint (converging GOP Party-Corporate-CIA interests and power) controlled public airwaves.

    This is dangerous and robs us of our freedom. The Fairness Docterine, contrary to what Sean Hannity says, does not censor anyone. It just merely allocates time for an opposing or alternate viewpoint.

    We need this diversity of opinion.

    _________________
    "All tyranny needs to gain a foothold, is for
    people of good conscience to remain silent."
         --Thomas Jefferson

    by FreeSociety on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 11:15:47 AM PST

  •  I'm against the Fairness Doctrine (5+ / 0-)

    Three points:

    1. If our side had 90% of talk radio the majority of the people who would like to impose the Fairness Doctrine would take the opposite view.
    1. I was actually in the broadcasting business when the Fairness Doctrine was in force and it surpressed political speech.
    1. Yes, I know that the AM/FM and broadcast TV airways belong to the public, but we are the party of free speach and the Fairness Doctrine is about someone in government being the judge of political speach.

    I am for free speach, not government monitored speech, and I oppose the Fairness Doctrine.  

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 11:22:09 AM PST

    •  Name me once (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      thethinveil

      that the Fairness Doctrine ever "suppressed political speech."

      Boy, do I need a stimulus package.

      by Kevvboy on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 11:40:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Just out of Curiosity? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        soccergrandmom, bugscuffle

        Kevvboy, did you have any experience as a broadcaster, or even as an avid consumer of political news, during the era of the Fairness Doctrine?

        For those of us who were there, the Fairness Doctrine suppressed political speech nearly every day.

        It was a great day for freedom, free speech and the First Amendment when the Fairness Doctrine was terminated.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 12:02:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes I did, yes I was, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          thethinveil

          And I completely disagree with you, obviously.  It was a great day for Ronald Reagan, Rush Limbaugh, and the rise of the right-wing talk conspiracy, is what it was.

          Boy, do I need a stimulus package.

          by Kevvboy on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 12:06:10 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I find that hard to believe (0+ / 0-)

            I am sure you are not alone, but the overwhelming majority of people I know who were actually in broadcasting during the era of the Fairness Doctrine are as opposed to it as I am.

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 12:08:25 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  that is absolutely true. I worked at NBC during (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          VClib

          much of the 60's in their documentary division producing a series called NBC White Papers. It is a fact thjat many subjects were tabook and unable to be tackled because the Fairness Doctrine and Equal Time rule would have demanded rebuttals or opposing perspectives. It did have the effect of stifling controversial programs and was in large part to blame for the 'enetertainization' of the news medium in the mid to late 70's, long before regan came on the scene.

          It played a large part oin my personal decisuion to leave the mainstream media and move to the Caribbean to work in radio and produce cultural programming based on African caribbean history and culture.

          •  Yank the license (0+ / 0-)

            "It is a fact that many subjects were taboo and unable to be tackled because the Fairness Doctrine and Equal Time rule would have demanded rebuttals or opposing perspectives."

            Then the answer is that NBC's license should have been yanked at that point.  The license that they agreed to REQUIRED them to present these subjects along with all those pesky rebuttals and opposing perspectives.  And dropping the original content because it was too much trouble means they had decided to violate the license.

            The license wasn't stifling the programs, the companies were ignoring their license requirements to present those programs, in exchange for their ability to make their profits.

            Of course they wanted to cut out the cost of managing this, the FCC should have stepped in at the point where they decided to stop serving the public interest because it was a hassle, and they were making profits from other stuff.

            -- Seeing The Forest -- Who is our economy FOR, anyway?

            by davej on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 03:13:39 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  No they did not (0+ / 0-)

              Having a broadcast license during the time of the Fairness Doctrine did not require a license holder to air any specific type of program. What it requred was that you dedicate some time to community service that responded to the "Needs, Interests, and Aspirations" of the community. I know because I completed multilple license transfer applications when acquiring local network affiliates. There was NEVER any requirement to have any discussion of politics or political issues and they were routinely avoided because of the Fairness Doctrine. Not broadcasting political topics was NEVER a legitimate reason to challenge a license holder, never mind "pulling a license". There is more to life than politics, and you could be a responsible broadcaster without trying to navigate the Fairness Doctrine.

              "let's talk about that"

              by VClib on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 12:06:30 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  Admit it. (5+ / 0-)

    The cry for radio regulation is rooted in the urge to censor.  That's all there is to it.  You can count me out, and I'll fight the FD every goddam step of the way.

    •  Didn't censor shit before why would it now? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      thethinveil
      •  The effect (0+ / 0-)

        was to make a.m. radio all about disco and gardening.  (Why bother with the headaches?) It did censor.  I suggest you Google Nat Hentoff's stuff about how radio worked under the FD.

        •  Interesting he would be against the FD when (0+ / 0-)

          I imagine given his political views he's been a minority opinion. The FD would make sure he was heard. It isn't about free speech it is about all kinds of speech being heard. Today, what no FD has gotten us is a mess where only the loudest are heard, nothing honoring free speech there and it is in its own way censorship via megaphone.

          Hentoff has taken some really unpopular and I might add largely UNHEARD positions against Bush and the war. I find his recalling of his radio days interesting in so much as opinion and commentary was allows allowed without opposing views. Bob Hope did nothing but topical humor, Jack Parr and later Johnny Carson didn't have to present opposing views when say they had Buckley on.  I don't recall Paul Harvey having an opposing views on his program or H. V. Kaltenborn or Fulton Lewis or even Murrow.

  •  Control? (5+ / 0-)

      A fairness doctrine ,so information can be "controlled", that should scare the hell out of everyone.

      If your argument can't win, you silence the opposition? Or regulate them out of existance? Sounds like a two edged sword to me, one you might regret drawing.

      The main stream media has been leftist as long as I can remember, and so goes Public radio and TV . Are they going to get some "love" from this, they are corporations, albeit corporations that agree with leftist dogmas. Will we be saved from the MSNBC "Lovefests"?

      Those right wing radio people have listeners, alot of them. Left wing radio has to be susidized to exist.  One can generate profits, one can't.That should tell you something.

      What the left wants ,is not to argue, not to debate an issue. They want us to agree with their weak arguments, with no disenting voices allowed.

     YOUR side isn't on the side of the People, it's on the side of a differnt set of corporate interests, that can't manage to compete with the other.

    •  Does this not sound like a troll comment? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      A Citizen, island in alabama

      What the left wants ,is not to argue, not to debate an issue. They want us to agree with their [The Left's] weak arguments, with no disenting voices allowed.

      The main stream media has been leftist as long as I can remember, and so goes Public radio and TV . Are they going to get some "love" from this, they are corporations, albeit corporations that agree with leftist dogmas. Will we be saved from the MSNBC "Lovefests

      MSM left wing - you got to be kidding me

      "Corporations agree with leftist dogmas"

      WTF?

      Those right wing radio people have listeners, alot of them. Left wing radio has to be susidized to exist. One can generate profits, one can't.That should tell you something

      YOUR [Left wing] side isn't on the side of the People, it's on the side of a differnt set of corporate interests, that can't manage to compete with the other

      Not only inconsistent but also very wrong as the Left is concerned about the majority of people.

      Is this some massive spoof on the Fairness doctrine?

      "I can't read! I sign my name with an X! I once tried to make mashed potatoes with laundry detergent! I think I voted for Nader! NADER!" TJ

      by thethinveil on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 12:07:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  No, it hasn't. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      island in alabama, thethinveil

      The main stream media has been leftist as long as I can remember, and so goes Public radio and TV.

      No, the mainstream media has not been "leftist", nor has it been liberal. The "liberal media" lie has been a useful tactic for the right, but it is nothing but a tactic.

      Those right wing radio people have listeners, alot of them. Left wing radio has to be susidized to exist.  One can generate profits, one can't.That should tell you something.

      Liberal media pulls in good ratings, when it gets a chance to be on the air. In Columbus, Air America was pulled off the air despite getting good ratings, and replaced with a format that got far worse ratings.

  •  Fairness Doctrine is a stupid idea (4+ / 0-)

    that makes all us "1st Amendment" progressives looks like hypocrites.  A for-profit company should be able to take whatever political position they like.  Who are we to tell them different?  And how would we respond if the situation was reversed?

    So what if they dominate radio?

    We can promote our own progressive radio hosts, or focus on expanding our domination of the internet instead.

    •  AM radio listeners are our senior citizens. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      snackdoodle, thethinveil

      In general they are just not interested in the internet. It is not OK to abandon them to rw propaganda because WE see AM radio as a fossil technology from a bye-gone era.

      The public owns the air waves, but those air waves have been coopted by financial giants who have used them to further their extreme right wing agenda.

      If our side were to gain unlimited access to a public resource and use it for propaganda dissemination, I think we would all protest just as fervently as we protest Rush's lies these days.

    •  Not if they travel over free airwaves (0+ / 0-)
    •  not to mention all the frequencies given (0+ / 0-)

      over to Christian broadcasting. If you want to fight for a return of the Fairness Doctrine fight to have a musloim, a Hindu, an atheist, a Buddhisar etc. station allocated for every Christian one.

      •  Balance, not equality (0+ / 0-)

        Hindu, Jewish, etc. viewpoints should be required to be presented but not necessarily equal time.  The public interest is served by hearing the different voices, but the Fairness Doctrine never said it had to be the same amount of time, or on the same show.

        The point of the Fairness Doctrine was really about keeping a few corporations from buying up all the stations and then presenting only one political viewpoint.  WHich is what has happened.

        -- Seeing The Forest -- Who is our economy FOR, anyway?

        by davej on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 02:16:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The Fairness Doctrine only applied to broadcast (0+ / 0-)

          entities ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS, using thre so-called public airwaves, or as the public likes to say, free airwaves that belong to the public.  the proliferation of channels sicne have been simplistically cable and satellite and would not be covered by the fairness Doctrine or the Equal Time laws.

          I am not a communications lawyer but there may be anti-trust issues involved, you'd have to ask an expert.

    •  Well, for one thing (3+ / 0-)

      they don't own the airwaves...WE DO.
      They lease them from US.
      Fairness doctrine or no, there has to be a way to go back to the days when you couldn't just pull it out of your ass and call it "news."

      Electing conservatives is like hiring a carpenter who thinks hammers are evil.

      by MA Liberal on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 01:12:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Companies can't have political positrions (0+ / 0-)

      A company is a contract.  A piece of paper does not have a political position.

      In the case of We, the People granting a license for use of our airwaves, we CAN demand that it serve the public interest.  Why ELSE would we grant such a license?

      -- Seeing The Forest -- Who is our economy FOR, anyway?

      by davej on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 02:12:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Final thought: (0+ / 0-)

    Conservatives have been complaining about bias in the network news since at least the 1960s.  To their credit, I have never heard any of them demand that it be "fixed" by the federal government.

  •  Reagan vetoing of the Fairness Doctine is (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kevvboy, leolabeth, thethinveil

    enough for me to support it.

    Consider this story by a Native American:

    An Indigenous Perspective on the Fairness Doctrine

    Not one of us realized that these doors of opportunity had opened for us because of the "Fairness Doctrine." We only knew the doors had opened and we were bound and determined to make the most of it while it lasted. Ron Holt discovered the power of the Fairness Doctrine when he had the Area Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs on his show and was verbally accosted by a tribal leader demanding equal time. "I asked the station manager about it and he told me that I had better damned well give the tribal leader equal time because that was the rule of the Fairness Doctrine. It was the first time I heard about it," he said.

    The battle to shut the doors forever on the Fairness Doctrine or to give it a new life is in the hands of the new Congress. When it was in full force and up for renewal in 1987, it was vetoed by President Ronald Reagan and when it came up again during the Bush administration, it was vetoed again. Will it be renewed or buried in the Barack Obama administration?

    Reagan and Bush against, me, I am for it.

    Change. Bring it back.

  •  I'm for anything that reduces the talk (0+ / 0-)

    time repugs have on the airwaves.  We should control how much they say and when.  I just know if we forced people to listen to us and kept drilling it in their heads they'd finally realize on their own the progressives are correct view point.  

    You can't cheat an honest man.

    by thestructureguy on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 12:45:24 PM PST

    •  Louise Slaughter introduced (0+ / 0-)

      a bill in 2005 referencing Fairness in Broadcasting. Now is the time to lobby for passage with a Democratic Congress. If this is what gets you motivated go for it.

      It definitely will be an element in the 'socialism' argument, about the Europeanisation of America, debate that will increase in intensity on just about every piece of legislation introduced during the next eight years.

      Pick you Bbattles, it's going to be a long war.  Just arguing you don't like Limbaugh is not a valid argument, because people will say, then don't listen!

      as far as i am concerned the Equal Time rule is what has led to the inanity of talking heads, one on each side of the spectrum, that turns all cable news into shouting matches and people learn nothing at all.

  •  Break up.... (0+ / 0-)

    ...the media conglomerates while you are at it.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site