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Fairness Doctrine has been a part of FCC (Federal Communications Commission) rulebook since 1949. As summarized by Steve Rendall of FAIR,

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.

Sounds reasonable? So why was the enforcement of this rule stopped in 1987? And, since the rule is not enforced anyway, why is the FCC chairman Julius Genachovsky trying so hard to kill it by taking it off the books? Finally, what are the implications?

First, a little history.

FCC was established by the Communications Act of 1934 and operates as an independent U.S. government agency overseen by Congress, to regulate interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable - to best serve the People's interest.

Concerns about that last bit - "to best serve the People's interest" - prompted the 1949 Report on Editorializing by Broadcast Licensees -

It is axiomatic that one of the most vital questions of mass communication in a democracy is the development of an informed public opinion through the public dissemination of news and ideas concerning the vital issues of the day. [...] The Commission has consequently recognized the necessity for licensees to devote a reasonable percentage of their broadcast time to the presentation of news and programs devoted to the consideration and discussion of public issues of interest in the community served by the particular station. And we have recognized, with respect to such programs, the paramount right of the public in a free society to be informed and to have presented to it for acceptance or rejection the different attitudesand viewpoints concerning these vital and often controversial issues which are held by the various groups which make up the community.

Some "broadcasters" were immediately unhappy with the need to provide a balanced view and to present both sides of the argument. The Fairness Doctrine survived a major court challenge in 1969 (Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC), but in 1985 the FCC, packed with Reagan appointees, released its infamous "Fairness Report" declaring the Fairness Doctrine "obsolete" and "no longer serving the public interest." Two years later, the same FCC declared that they would no longer enforce it. No court challenge, no nothing, fairness bad, 4-1 vote, and that's it.

Mind you, two almost-successful attempts were made to bring it back. In 1988, a bill to restore the Fairness Doctrine passed in the Congress, but did not get enough votes to override Reagan's veto. The second attempt was in 1991, but then a veto threat from Bush Sr. was enough to stop it.

So, it's been effectively dead for almost 25 years. Some people talked about reviving it, especially in the wake of several scandals that happened around 2004 (when several broadcasters tried their worst to hand the presidential election to Dubya, and FCC didn't do squat). Although, quoting John Hudson,

in the last 24 years, the specter of its nightmarish return has been a perennial bogeyman for talk radio hosts. Though some Democratic legislators occasionally voiced support for making the regulation a law (e.g. Diane Feinstein, Chuck Schumer), it's never been more than a pipe dream. "This is so stupid and it's never going to happen," Bill O'Reilly said last year, at the peak of a particularly paranoid week of Fairness Doctrine frenzy.

What's happening now...

On May 31, the House Republicans wrote to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, asking him to formally strike the Fairness Doctrine from the agency's rulebook.

Today, it was revealed that Genachowsky (a 2009 Obama nominee) wrote a letter to Fred Upton, the Republican chairing the House Energy and Commerce Committee, saying that the Fairness Doctrine "holds the potential to chill free speech and the free flow of ideas.” He further wrote...

I fully support deleting the Fairness Doctrine and related provisions from the Code of Federal Regulations, so that there can be no mistake that what has been a dead letter is truly dead.

So what does this mean?

Not much in principle, it's a doctrine that has not been enforced, but the symbolic meaning of the action is, at least in my opinion, most sinister - it codifies the control of corporations over the media and strips all the vestiges of their obligation to serve the public interest.

And what should we do?

Here is the FCC comment form, for whatever it's worth. There is no "Fairness Doctrine" subtopic open for comments, so I fired off some choice words (polite) under "Future of Media."

I am also going to write a letter to the President (nicely print it on paper, sign, mail, the whole works) and ask him to fire Genachowski, since Mr. Genachowski clearly serves the corporations, not the People.

12:23 AM PT: Thanks to the Rescue Rangers for selecting this to be featured in Community Spotlight!

10:08 AM PT: Thanks to the commenters and recommenders (rec list, huh?) for the interesting discussion. Many good points, especially regarding the disastrous consequences of media deregulation after 1996.

Originally posted to kalmoth on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 10:14 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (154+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sceptical observer, happymisanthropy, blueoasis, grada3784, G2geek, drewfromct, OleHippieChick, boofdah, Emerson, Cory Bantic, semiot, gerrilea, IL clb, Its the Supreme Court Stupid, gooderservice, poorbuster, stlsophos, panicbean, DiegoUK, skyounkin, Floande, Cedwyn, abe57, Matt Z, goobop, Debbie in ME, MsGrin, GreenGeezer, Oh Mary Oh, lostinamerica, marina, SJerseyIndy, celdd, OIL GUY, TomFromNJ, CA Nana, Kimball Cross, Nina Katarina, LarisaW, No one gets out alive, greenbastard, blue71340, Ohkwai, Larry Bailey, ER Doc, Xapulin, qannabbos, Haningchadus14, chemborg, MartyM, Nebraskablue, miller415, muddy boots, bitpyr8, Sylv, Remillard, princss6, cslewis, JTinDC, Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle, OLinda, GeorgeXVIII, mrchips46, theChild, pmcmscot, ChemBob, beforedawn, zerelda, poligirl, Grumpy Young Man, tardis10, happy camper, PBen, Thomas Twinnings, Statusquomustgo, Earth Ling, jabney, Floja Roja, StrayCat, bryduck, Catte Nappe, lcrp, rubyr, mntleo2, Robobagpiper, pengiep, petulans, eru, revsue, redlum jak, Larsstephens, vacantlook, Johnathan Ivan, JuliaAnn, DeadB0y, Haf2Read, Getreal1246, Shockwave, CanyonWren, el dorado gal, TracieLynn, Russgirl, snackdoodle, Voodoo, anarchyintheusa, cacamp, Alice Venturi, commonmass, Brooke In Seattle, Deward Hastings, notrouble, OldDragon, scooter in brooklyn, ChuckInReno, exNYinTX, trinite, millwood, Odysseus, RickD, ClickerMel, lissablack, Anthony Page aka SecondComing, Brunette, Observerinvancouver, roystah, Lefty Coaster, blueoregon, Betty Pinson, PaulVA, ibinreno, Oldowan, Karen Hedwig Backman, wader, alyosha, edrie, trumpeter, cotterperson, ColoTim, carpunder, neroden, Daily Activist, brentbent, Dube, Massman, johnmorris, DefendOurConstitution, stormicats, confitesprit, jnhobbs, dewley notid, Carlo, Otteray Scribe, weinerschnauzer, Eddie C
  •  Double head face ? (6+ / 0-)
    since Mr. Genachowski clearly serves the corporations, not the people.

    "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

    by indycam on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 10:19:53 PM PDT

  •  I think there are two issues mixed in here: (40+ / 0-)

    the first is the Fairness Doctrine itself, which really is obsolete and unnecessary according to the reasons for its establishment in the 1940s.  The FCC had already laid down regulations requiring those who held radio licenses to devote, as your blockquote says, a certain block of time to news and discussion of public issues.  I'm fairly certain that's no longer a requirement.  And if that's no longer a requirement, then the Fairness Doctrine's attempt to regulate that portion of the broadcast is completely moot.   A new version would, in essence, be forcing regulatory control on a voluntary programming choice.  It's doubly moot in a mass-media context, where access to opposing viewpoints is not an issue (what people choose to access, however, is).

    The second issue, and the one that actually needs to be addressed (although the administration seems on the wrong side of this issue, frankly) is the problem of media consolidation.   It's ridiculous that we have an increasingly small number of increasingly larger conglomerates that can control the access, distribution, and production of media, effectively squeezing out competition (but ostensibly "lowering costs to consumers", which is how they keep justifying it.)  The Fairness Doctrine wouldn't fix that, but it's the much greater threat.

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 10:42:03 PM PDT

    •  I somewhat disagree... (19+ / 0-)
      It's doubly moot in a mass-media context, where access to opposing viewpoints is not an issue (what people choose to access, however, is).

      This would be true for a media-savvy consumer, but not for a stereotypical low-information voter who just turns on the TV and sees what he|she sees. Another problem is, the TV is likely cable...

      •  Sure, but the doctrine is about (21+ / 0-)

        the access side of the equation, right?  Access really isn't a problem: most people watch network nightly news, which wouldn't really be affected by this in the sense that it doesn't do much viewpoint-specific coverage; and cable news would be exempt entirely.

        If we're going to organize against the problematic media landscape, I think consolidation is the real monster in the room.

        Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

        by pico on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 11:04:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  On this, I totally concur... (10+ / 0-)

          Moreover, what is happening around Genachowski's letter is 100% symbolic, but it's a potent symbol nevertheless.

        •  Question, what is "viewpoint-specific coverage"? (4+ / 0-)

          I'm trying to understand both views here and I'm lost....

          Seriously...I don't see any of the news channels not giving viewpoint specific presentations...that's all they seem to do...they wrap it up as "fact" and then spoon feed it to the masses...

          While the consolidation factor is more of a danger to the free expression of ideas or the communication of said, all I see today on OTA programming & cable is propaganda..nothing more or less...

          How do we address this?

          -7.62; -5.95 The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.~Tesla

          by gerrilea on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 04:32:45 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Access IS a problem (8+ / 0-)

          in that I can't seem to find anything but corporatist news anywhere on my TV and radio.

          Further, if cable is exempt from FCC regulation, I think that is a real problem that needs to be addressed.

          It is abundantly evident to me that none of the media outlets are "serving the public interest" because they are all too busy serving the profits of their multi mega corporate owners - all of whom have a specific political agenda.

          So while I agree consolidation is a problem that needs to be addressed, the underlying theory is that a "free market" solution will arise in the form of greater competition between smaller players.  I don't think that is a full solution to the problem.

          And the real problem is that that the public is actually getting a disservice from the outlets in the form of fluff or propaganda masquerading as "news".  Just look at any recent study to find out how this has resulted in an extremely uninformed and misinformed citizenry.

          I find it ludicrous to hear multi-gazillionaires crying about "free speech".  Hey, I want free speech too, but I don't seem to be able to purchase elections or hold entire populations in the thrall of my point of view because I own some tubes.

          Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth - Abraham Lincoln

          by Gustogirl on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 07:34:19 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •   I Don"t know if it's available in your area (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Radio IQ is a great radio show if you enjoy  all news radio and civil discussion.  It is part NPR, BBC and many  different opinions. The most balanced radio I have heard in my lifetime.  Diane Rehm is my favorite for asking anyone and everyone tough questions.


          •  It would put an end to corporate ads (0+ / 0-)

            disguised as news stories.  

            They would still be free to buy time to spout their propaganda, but it would have to be clearly labeled as advertising.  

            It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. ~ Aristotle

            by Betty Pinson on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 02:27:07 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Radio. Hate radio. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          The Fairness Doctrine would force them to either air opposing views.  Think about the implications.

          Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

          by neroden on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 01:50:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's not a good justification for a law. (0+ / 0-)

            In fact, that's a good reason to oppose it: its application would be about ideology, not access.  

            Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

            by pico on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 02:54:22 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  cable TV needs to be regulated as a.... (31+ / 0-)

        .... monopoly telecoms provider.  

        And further, carriage should be divorced from content.  Either you can own the cables, or you can own programs that go over the cables, but you can't own both.  

        Owning both is a HUGE temptation to monsters to prey on the public.

        The "telephone company" model works.  You own the wires, you have no say over what goes over them.  And that also translates to a-la-carte cable, whereby everyone who hates Fox can delete all things Fox from their account and not pay for them.  

        •  That would be a start (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Odysseus, Betty Pinson, pico

          The number of cable networks owned by a single entity should also be limited.  "Block booking" of networks should be prohibited (by which I am referring to the common industry package of forcing cable and satellite companies to agree to carry relatively unpopular networks in return for being able to carry the popular ones).

          Finally, some sort of a la carte should be put in place to allow viewers to opt out of networks that charge sizeable monthly fees that they don't want to support.  As examples, if you're a cable subscriber that doesn't watch sports, you're still paying for sports networks that approach $10/month wholesale.  You're also paying about 75 cents/month wholesale for Fox News.

          Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

          by TexasTom on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 06:21:40 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  A la carte pricing, though, (4+ / 0-)

            probably sounds the death knell for niche broadcasting, which is now subsidized through the "one price fits all" model. Only the most popular channels would survive, and all channels' program directors would feel the need to pander to the broadest base possible to keep their subscription numbers high enough to stay in biz, unless they are externally funded regardless of ratings/viewers. (Which as we all pretty much know means wealthy conservatives get to own this sandbox, too.) Is that a good thing?

            •  It would be worth it if it lead to the end of (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              wrights, kalmoth

              all those damnable "shopping channels".

            •  That's what the industry wants you to believe... (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Odysseus, trumpeter, kalmoth

              Since a la carte as I proposed would only apply to channels that charge a monthly wholesale fee over some set amount, channels would have two potential routes for survival:

              1.  Go the broad based route and profit from advertising revenue, with minimal (if any) revenue from subscriber fees.  This is the route that channels like USA, TNT, etc would probably want to take.

              2.  Super serve a niche and try to prosper based on building a loyal audience that is willing to pay for your channel.  Who knows...under this scenario, maybe the former SiFi channel would still be showing science fiction on Friday nights instead of wrestling?

              So who would take the hit under a la carte?  I believe it would primarily be two groups:

              1.  Sports leagues, since they would no longer be able to get exoribitant rights fees from cable networks like ESPN that just pass it along to the subscribers as rate increases.

              2.  The big Hollywood studios, who would no longer find USA, TNT, and TBS willing to make huge payments for reruns of off-network TV series and old movies.

              Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

              by TexasTom on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 10:50:28 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I don't see it. A television channel/network (0+ / 0-)

                requires too much money upfront and too much overhead to survive in this manner.
                1) You want more ads from your TV?
                2) Costs to the viewer would skyrocket, not lessen, for niche programming in this instance--isn't that the opposite of what you were arguing for? Let's say for argument's sake that I pay $100 for 100 channels (the number is actually quite a bit better in my favor.) That's $1/month per channel. You think any network could subsist on that without non-devotees subsidizing them?

                •  I have no problem there. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Betty Pinson

                  99.9% of what is on TV now is regurgitated drivel anyway.  If the clone-of-a-clone-of-a-clone-of-a-etc. shows went away, I would not weep.  And that applies to all sitcoms and 'reality' TV.

                  Use the bandwidth for something better.

                  I am still learning, but the teachers often suck.

                  by trumpeter on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 01:17:08 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Why do you care about cost... (0+ / 0-)

                  ...per channel?

                  More relevant would be what you're paying for the channels that you watch -- and the average viewer who subscribes to cable or satellite actually watches fewer than 20 of the available channels.  Of those channels, several are typically broadcast stations that could be received for free with an antenna.

                  So if you're paying $60/month for a 100 channel package, the relevant cost per channel isn't 60 cents, but more like $4 to $6 per channel that you'd actually watch.

                  So, taking a wholesale rate that is just $1/month -- if that channel can get 10% market penetration, that works out to $10 million/month or $120 million/year.

                  So, yes, I think that many, many networks could subsist very well on that amount of money.

                  Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

                  by TexasTom on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 07:57:46 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  There is also the problem of how does (0+ / 0-)

              a viewer learn what a new channel has to offer?

              How do viewers learn of a new channel such as Current TV?

              This also increases marketing and customer support costs.  The cable company would need to spend on informing what different channels have to offer, as well as handle phone based customer support calls as people make changes or reply to questions from those who use the web to make their selections.  The net result would likely be the average bill is higher.

              The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

              by nextstep on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 11:34:54 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  In the C-Band satellite days... (0+ / 0-)

                ...the way that new networks made viewers aware of their existence was that they made new channels available for free for some period of time.   I remember when the SciFi Channel first appeared, it was unscrambled and available to anyone with a satellite dish.  After a while, they started scrambling in "open key" mode -- which meant that anyone who subscribed to as much as a single other channel continued to receive SciFi for free.  About a year after the channel launched, they did finally start charging a subscription fee to receive it.

                That was typical of the way that new start up channels handled C-Band satellite, which is the only television market where a la carte was common place.  Seems like it worked pretty well.

                As for your claim of high administrative costs -- it wasn't true in C-Band satellite, so there is no reason to believe it would be true in larger market places.

                Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

                by TexasTom on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 08:06:47 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  As always, it depends (0+ / 0-)

              on how it is set up and run.

              If ESPN charges X, that doesn't mean USA or DIY has to charge the same amount.  If their cost is less, their price to the providers would likely be less, as well.

              So I could say "I don't want the stations that cost above "Y" in price" - If I could remove ESPN and all of its affiliates, and not have to pay for them I would do just that.  Same for shopping channels (which would probably have even lower Pour Cost) and MTV and the like.

              And the networks would probably suffer the most.  I know I never watch them at all, would not notice if they disappeared.

              But, on a more meta-level, if there is a doctrine, it would have to be enforced regardless of delivery system - broadcast, cable, satellite - no different - if it goes to your TV, it is regulated at some level.

              Ideally, of course.

              I am still learning, but the teachers often suck.

              by trumpeter on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 01:14:23 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Obama Administration approved Comcast (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          anarchyintheusa, Betty Pinson

          purchase of NBC-Universal, so they demonstrated that they don't have a problem with this.

          The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

          by nextstep on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 07:08:42 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Excellent point, and lets just say it. (5+ / 0-)

          Monopolization is occurring both horizontally and vertically in this business.  

          Honest, the citizens of this nation need to get together and start suing right and left with the anti-trust laws we have on the books.

          This consolidation of wealth and power in multiple industries has already proved itself to be absolutely cancerous.

          Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth - Abraham Lincoln

          by Gustogirl on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 07:38:30 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Or do it yourself. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Money and effort are somewhat fungible.  And any committed group can buy shares in a corporation.  Once you get majority control, you can drive policy.

            Gannett, for instance, is only a 3.35B market cap.  That's the kind of thing that a few thousand committed investors could pull together.

            -7.75 -4.67

            "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

            There are no Christians in foxholes.

            by Odysseus on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 12:14:05 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Straw man. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Those interested in and experienced in the kind of money that requires are on the other side.

              Democrats, by nature, are not interested in, committed to, or able to afford such expenditures.

              I am still learning, but the teachers often suck.

              by trumpeter on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 01:19:09 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  The key problem is last-mile ISPs. (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                trumpeter, Gustogirl, Odysseus

                Municipal broadband could actually kill the existing private monopolies -- all of 'em -- while remaining an "open access" operation without the bias shown by the cable-TV monopolies.

                Of course the incumbent private monopolies are fighting tooth and nail to prohibit municipal broadband.  Rent-seekers love them some government interference to protect private rent-seeking.

                Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

                by neroden on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 01:52:41 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  Cable uses public easements (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kalmoth, trumpeter, neroden

          therefore they should either pay lease fees to the landowners, be regulated as a public carrier.

          As for wireless, as long as the FCC can regulate RF emissions that interfere with radio transmissions then again either pay me for shooting your junk through my house or be considered a public carrier.

    •  Yes. The doctrine is a red herring. (18+ / 0-)

      What, we gonna force Keith to award "equal time" to some conservaturd jerk on Current TV? We gonna use the doctrine to shutter Limbaugh's show, Chavez style? We really wanna do this?

      Or do we wanna talk about how the largest radio companies held about 12-15 stations each.....until DEREGULATION kicked in and companies started eating each other until the 1,200+ station unwieldy incompetent behemoth that is ClearChannel emerged.

      "See? I'm not a racist! I have a black friend!"

      by TheHalfrican on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 12:05:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I disagree... (18+ / 0-)

        (not about the deregulation and corporate takeover though).

        Fairness doctrine was an important symbol and a reminder that the People own the airwaves. It had to be upgraded, not scrapped.

        What, we gonna force Keith to award "equal time" to some conservaturd jerk on Current TV?

        Now, i see several ways how this could be fun, no?
        •  Keith awarding equal time (5+ / 0-)

          Would be awesome.  And exactly what the reichwing-nuts are afraid of.  Imagine that they had to pair up every time they were put on TV.  They couldn't just throw out their bullshit talking points and let them lay on the table anymore.  Someone would be around to at least pretend to challenge their horse-shit assertions.

          Keith is not going to be afraid of some dickwad conservative on his show.  It's the Fox News asshats who are terrified of having to cede time to an intelligent opponent who isn't made entirely of half-burned straw.

          Just in case you forgot today: REPUBLICANS VOTED TO END MEDICARE. AND THEY'LL DO IT AGAIN.

          by slippytoad on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 06:43:12 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Fox News (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            It's the Fox News asshats who are terrified of having to cede time to an intelligent opponent who isn't made entirely of half-burned straw.

            Fox News already has the model for this -- it's called "Hannity & Colmes".  That sure was some balanced show, wasn't it?

            And that's exactly what they'd do.

            •  Fairness is out and Propaganda is set in stone n/t (0+ / 0-)

              "We are a Plutocracy, we ought to face it. We need, desperately, to find new ways to hear independent voices & points of view" Ramsey Clark, U.S. Attorney General.

              by Mr SeeMore on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 08:00:23 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Like I said (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Half-burned straw.  Colmes was milquetoast and we all knew it.  If Fox News had to allow ANY REASONABLE CHALLENGER into the newsroom to rebut GOP talking points, it would be different.

              Remember, Colmes was a FOX EMPLOYEE.  

              Just in case you forgot today: REPUBLICANS VOTED TO END MEDICARE. AND THEY'LL DO IT AGAIN.

              by slippytoad on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 08:12:20 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Tom Hartmann does it all the time and ... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kalmoth, liamladdieo, Betty Pinson

            ...usually creams his guest while being polite and informative.  He just makes them look like the radical idiots they are without having to do a thing but let them blab their screeds and then Tom decimates them with facts.  I love that guy!  

            Cat in Seattle

            First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they hurt you, then you win ~ Mahatma Gandhi

            by mntleo2 on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 08:10:51 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Agree (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          trumpeter, kalmoth

          For those who didn't grow up during the era of Fairness Doctrine broadcasting, its probably hard to imagine how it worked.

          But it did, and it worked well, without harming the appeal of shows like Olberman.

          It simply held news and opinion shows to a fair standard of journalism to valid commentary.  It wasn't obvious, but it was fair and balanced content.  It didn't mean groups like the KKK were allowed to broadcast their opinions.  Hate speech was still hate speech; slander was still slander.

          The Fairness Doctrine was and should continue to be a great and useful tool to elevate political discourse.

          It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. ~ Aristotle

          by Betty Pinson on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 11:56:23 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  and/both. (12+ / 0-)

        First, yes, break up the consolidated media megas.  

        And then second, yes, back to the Fairness Doctrine.  Start with Rush.  He has a 1st A right to speak, but not a 1st A right to suck all the air out of the room and silence opponents by simply denying them bandwidth.

        Somewhere far down the line they may get to Keith.  But he's small potatoes compared to the Rushes and Foxies of this world, so the net loss of him having to give some free time to rightie-nuts is more than compensated by the huge win of having all the rightie-nuts give free time to US.  

        •  And what would Rush do? (6+ / 0-)

          He'd probably add a segment to each show, featuring rebuttals by prominent liberal voices.  Start with Susan Estrich, let's say, move on to Ed Koch, maybe a little Evan Bayh now and then, who knows, maybe Joe Lieberman himself would be willing.
          Yeah, it'd be really effective.

          •  Limpbow is taking his 29 big blues// (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Betty Pinson

            Has never been dependent onthe rules or truth or fairness..
            Who gives a crud about the fat druggie....liar

          •  No, it would be on a timed basis (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Betty Pinson, trumpeter

            like it was before. If Rush gets 3 hours, then a 3 hour slot opens up for someone like KO--on the same channel. Deciding who balances whom is the real problem, as you note, but Rush doesn't get to decide, some other agency would have to.

            •  Some other agency? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Like President Palin's FCC Chairman?  

              Before considering any more government interference in broadcasting, please take a moment and think about how such power could be used by your most loathed political opponents.

            •  The Fairness Doctrine never required equal time. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Betty Pinson, pico, kalmoth

              It is an all-too-common error to confuse the Fairness Doctrine with the Equal Time requirement.

              The FD required the provision reasonable opportunities to responsible spokespeople to express contrasting viewpoints on "controversial issues of public importance."  That is not a requirement to provide equal time.

              Equal time relates to the use of broadcast facilities by legally qualified candidates for public office.


              The Fairness Doctrine should not be confused with the Equal Time rule. The Fairness Doctrine deals with discussion of controversial issues, while the Equal Time rule deals only with political candidates.


          •  Actually it WOULD be effective. (0+ / 0-)

            The problem with Rush is that it's non-stop propaganda.  If his listeners were routinely exposed to ANY contrasting views, they'd start seeing his criminal dishonesty for what it is, as it's really quite blatant; it only works due to the saturation-bombing nature of the propaganda.  There's a reason the right-wing hate radio nuts cut people's microphones; any break in the propaganda causes some listeners to shake their heads and come to sanity.

            Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

            by neroden on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 01:54:40 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  As it is, Rachel often gives time to Republicans. (5+ / 0-)

          And the results are usually Must See TV, as she mops the floor with them.

          The Fairness Doctrine is only a problem if your arguments are so weak, that they'll fall over when presented with an eloquent counterpoint.

          Corporate Dog

          We didn't elect Obama to be an expedient president. We elected him to be a great one. -- Eugene Robinson

          by Corporate Dog on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 06:56:33 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  "only a problem if..." (0+ / 0-)
            The Fairness Doctrine is only a problem if your arguments are so weak, that they'll fall over when presented with an eloquent counterpoint.

            It's not even a problem then.  If your arguments are that weak, all you need do is answer them with an even-weaker counterpoint.  And I can't imagine a law being written that would prevent that from occurring.

        •  Yes he does (0+ / 0-)

          He is completely within his rights to do this

          but not a 1st A right to suck all the air out of the room and silence opponents by simply denying them bandwidth.
          •  More precisely, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            the First Amendment rights reside with the licensees of the stations that carry Rush's show, or any other show.  Rush's First-amendment rights end at the windscreen of the licensee's microphone, or at the input jack of the licensee's jackfield.

            •  FCC licenses are a privilege, not a right. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Betty Pinson

              If they were a right, it would be open-spectrum world.

              Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

              by neroden on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 01:55:47 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  and the public is allowed to comment (0+ / 0-)

                and file complaints.  The right wing was able to use the complaint and public comment process to their advantage back during the 80's when the FD was dismantled.

                It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. ~ Aristotle

                by Betty Pinson on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 02:32:15 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  How did the right use the comment process (0+ / 0-)

                  in the renewal cycle to its advantage?

                  And when was the last time that the FCC denied a renewal application?  On what grounds did the FCC deny renewal?

                  To my knowledge, there has not been an FD-based renewal denial since Red Lion. Renewal denials have been few and far between. Those that have occurred usually involve matters like the running of rigged contests, convictions of licensee principals for drug offenses or for the possession of child pornography, or misrepresentation or lack of candor in FCC filings. The catastrophic RKO renewals that date back about 30 years were doomed by lack of candor.

              •  If it were an open-spectrum world, (0+ / 0-)

                you would not need a license issued by the FCC.

                But I do agree, FCC licenses are grants of a privilege.  No one has a right to a license.  An applicant must demonstrate its basic qualifications.  And the statute (the Communications Act) explicitly states that the grant of a license does not convey a property interest.  So, the licensee does not own the licensee as an asset to which the licensee holds title, as would be the case for the transmitter, the antenna tower, etc.  The licensee is a trustee, and the license is a public trust.

                At least that is the theory (and what the law says).  In practice, particularly with respect to public-service (nonentertainment) programming, the FCC does not require very much of broadcast licensees.  The FCC has granted renewals by, e.g., home shopping stations that had no local news and that aired canned public-affairs programming very early on Sunday mornings.

                I'm of two minds about this.  On the one hand, I lament what has happened to broadcast news and to the broadcasting industry generally.  On the other hand, if listeners and viewers are not interested enough to communicate with licensees, to demand quality programming, and to boycott stations that air the likes of Rush Limbaugh, and to noisily boycott the sponsors of such programs and stations, why should the government force licensees to provide a certain amount of public-affairs programming, a certain amount of balance, a certain amount of locally produced news, etc?

                Broadcasters will generally air what attracts the most eyeballs and eardrums.  If the majority of listeners demanded quality and balanced programming, we would have it.

      •  It shows your ignorant of how it works (7+ / 0-)

        It's not proportionate time.  It's creating some opportunity for other points of view to be heard.  And it's mostly applicable to talk radio.  Which is wall to wall right wing.  

        Compare the political atmosphere and dialogue before and after 1988, and you can see what lack of a fairness doctrine has rought.

        •  But it could be by time. (0+ / 0-)

          My guess is that's how it was supposed to work. If somebody from one "side" buys an hour of broadcasting, someone from the other "side" gets the opportunity to buy an hour on the same channel/network--failing that, the first person doesn't get to go on. As I note above similarly, who gets to decide what the sides are, and who qualifies as a balancing voice are the problems.

          •  That's not how it worked (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kalmoth, Betty Pinson

            I remember those days.  Talk radio still leaned right, but there was some effort at balance.  If not by shows, then by editorial comments, when someone was give a couple of minutes for rebuttal.  Either one issues, or candidates for election.

            The airways are owned by the public.  Corporations only operate the stations by way of license.  That license should not give them the right to present only one viewpoint.

            •  Bill Clinton gave away the digital spectrum. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Rashaverak, neroden

              Before, what we call the airwaves belonged to the public, but Clinton agreed to go with the digital spectrum and he gave it away to rich media friends.  The only station that reported this was PBS.  I guess we all know why the others didn't.  If the digital spectrum had been auctioned off as in the past, we could have raised enough money to pay for health care for all Americans.  Clinton knew how to turn himself into a multimillionaire.  He wasn't going to be another common man Harry Truman in his "retirement."P.S.  I'm a Democrat who worked with Clinton in his first campaign way back in his Yale days.  I'm not a Republican going after him.  I guess I just like to know what the truth really is whenever I can find it.  It's getting harder and harder to do that.

            •  Your last line is 100% correct, and is the (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Betty Pinson

              basis for our desire to call for balance. (Of course.) How we enforce that balance is what we need to answer. If the FD/governmental regulation isn't the way to go, what is? The "market" sure hasn't been helping . . .

    •  Another point (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cslewis, jabney

      The reason why the Fairness Doctrine is no longer enforced is because it was struck down by the courts.  When the right wing uses the Doctrine as a boogey man that will destroy talk radio, they're being profoundly dishonest -- it would take a reversal of the court ruling in order for the Fairness Doctrine to come back, and I don't see how that would happen with the current courts.

      Considering that it's uneforceable anyway, whether Genachowski formally takes it off the books has little practical impact.  However, I can't say that I especially care for his use of right wing talking points in his support of taking it off the books.  But I also can't say that I'm surprised -- I understand taht Genachowki is an old Harvard buddy of the president, and that's why he got his appointment.  But as head of the FCC, he is truly awful and unqualified -- one of the lousiest appointments that President Obama has made.  And his idiotic statement on the Fairness Doctrine -- which enables the right's demonizing of a dead regulation -- is just another example of why he needs to be replaced.

      Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

      by TexasTom on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 06:30:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If the only remaining purpose (0+ / 0-)

        of the FD is to provide the right-wing with talking points, shouldn't the Dems want it stripped from the books?

        •  Personally, I don't care... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ...much one way or another.  Removing it from the books would be fine, since it isn't enforceable anyway -- but Genachowski should have portrayed it as being an administrative matter of removing a rule that the courts had long ago thrown out.

          For him to parrot right wing talking points was inexcusable.

          Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

          by TexasTom on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 10:39:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  It wasn't struck down by the courts: (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rashaverak, nextstep

        quite the contrary.  Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC asserted the right of the FCC to apply to the Fairness Doctrine, and that's still the standing precedent for both radio and broadcast television.

        In 1987 the FCC itself argued that the FD was unconstitutional and decided to stop enforcing it.   But that's not actually settled law.

        Still, I suspect it would be if it ever came to a court case.   Already in the early 80s the SCOTUS was envisioning that technology would soon advance beyond the FD's reason for existing, and we're long past that point.

        Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

        by pico on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 11:41:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I'm not sure if imposing regulatory control (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe, neroden

      on news coverage should be "obsolete" or not...

      ... but what I do know is that I'm immensely nostalgic for an earlier moment in the history of broadcast news, in which:

      -- the broadcasting corporations preserved the autonomy of their news divisions, even in the face of inadequate profit-making or unpopular programming.

      -- consequently, said news divisions were able to pursue coverage that adhered to certain widely recognized standards of journalistic integrity.

      -- sensationalism, unbalanced coverage, or excessive editorializing did not have a place in this earlier manifestation of the media.

      I know what I present here is an idealized image, and by no means entirely accurate as a description of reality. But this is certainly an ideal that we've moved away from by leaps and bounds over the last few decades, and journalism has suffered for it.

      Nothing requires a greater effort of thought than arguments to justify the rule of non-thought. -- Milan Kundera

      by Dale on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 07:37:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Who's lowering costs to consumers????? (0+ / 0-)

      We all know that none of our media giants is really lowering consumer costs,  and  regardless of our personal inclinations, we also do need to hear both sides of all important issues.  I can't understand why that's wrong.  We very much need someone to educate the public with clear explanations of the facts.  What we have now is indoctrination.  We can see the results every day with voters who appear to be very stupid, but who are probably struggling with the results of too much Fox News and Rush Limbaugh.  You see, the very well connected billionaires who control the media have to do this to come out on the winning side.  How else could these people get their way in a society where they're so outnumbered?  Right now they control all avenues of information, and they've pretty much succeeded in doing a lot of damage to this nation.  I'd like to know what's wrong with getting the facts.

    •  I think you've made a great point about (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      media consolidation.  

      We must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately. B. Franklin

      by Observerinvancouver on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 11:31:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Deregulation (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Previously, an FCC rule required AM and FM radio stations to devote certain percentages of their weekly airtime to nonentertainment programming.  That provision went away as part of the Deregulation of Radio rule-making proceeding in the 1980s.  Stations would still be required to operate "in the public interest," but the licensees could air as much or as little nonentertainment programming as they saw fit in the exercise of their editorial discretion.

      Before the suspension of the Fairness Doctrine, there were relatively few sanctions actually imposed against broadcasters for violation of the doctrine.  Most of the time, the FCC washed out Fairness Doctrine complaints by holding that the complainant had not established that the issue covered was a controversial issue of public importance, or that the complainant had not established standing.

      A person or organization who believes that a broadcaster is not meeting its fairness doctrine obligations first must complain to the broadcaster. See Democratic National Committee v. FCC, 717 F.2d 1471, 1475 (D.C.Cir.1983). If the broadcaster's response is not satisfactory, that person or organization then may file a complaint with the Commission. Id. The complaint must present prima facie evidence of a fairness doctrine violation before the Commission will request a response to the complaint from the broadcaster. Id. The requirement of making out a prima facie case is "a formidable procedural barrier," id., that only a small percentage of complainants manage to surmount. Id. at 1478-79 n. 5.


      So, the Fairness Doctrine was at most a deterrent.

      There has never been a Fairness Doctrine for print media, and the idea that broadcasters should have the same First-Amendment rights as the publishers of print-media is hardly the realm of only right-wingnuts.  E.g., Justice William O. Douglas, a strong defender of civil liberties, believed that broadcasters should have the same First-Amendment rights as print-media publishers.


      I have absolutely no doubt that the present Supreme Court would find the FD to be unConstitutional.  Even a more moderate Court, in this age of 500-channel cable and satellite-television channels, and tens of thousands of radio stations, and of the Internet and satellite radio, would probably find the FD to be unConstitutional.  The FD is largely premised on the scarcity doctrine.  In today's world, the scarcity doctrine is largely, if not entirely, an anachronism.

      Striking the unenforced FD from the FCC's books is like stripping a state statutory code of Blue Laws (Sabbath Laws)  that prohibited stores from being open on Sundays.

  •  If I remember correctly, (11+ / 0-)

    the right worried that the doctrine could kill their dominance of talk radio.  

    As it applies to broadcast television it's virtually worthless, unless they could find a way to include cable.

    "The human eye is a wonderful device. With a little effort, it can fail to see even the most glaring injustice." Richard K. Morgan

    by sceptical observer on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 10:44:27 PM PDT

    •  Good point... (8+ / 0-)
      As it applies to broadcast television it's virtually worthless, unless they could find a way to include cable.
      •  therefore apply it to cable also. (11+ / 0-)

        It's effectively another form of telecoms monopoly, so it should be regulated.

        Separate carriers from content across the board.  Cablecos should have no say in what goes over the cables.  

        •  Not going to happen (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          nextstep, sceptical observer

          The courts ruled the Fairness Doctrine as it pertains to broadcast media unconstitutional years ago.  The courts have generally been even less willing to support content regulation on cable than on broadcast (attempts to extend broadcast indecency rules to cable were struck down by the courts), which means that an expanded version of the Fairness Doctrine that applied to cable and broadcast would be dead as soon as it hits the courts.

          Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

          by TexasTom on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 06:24:06 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The Supreme Court upheld the FD (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Betty Pinson

            in the Red Lion decision in the 1960s.  But today's SC would strike the FD down in a heartbeat.

            •  Actually... (0+ / 0-)

              ...the Supreme Court upheld the Personal Attack rule, which granted the right of someone attacked on air to have time to respond.  While closely related to the Fairness Doctrine, it's not quite the same thing.

              Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

              by TexasTom on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 08:02:25 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Red Lion (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ...the Supreme Court upheld the Personal Attack rule, which granted the right of someone attacked on air to have time to respond.  While closely related to the Fairness Doctrine, it's not quite the same thing.

                True, the Personal Attack rule was involved, but the Court also spoke to the Fairness Doctrine.


                The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has for many years imposed on broadcasters a "fairness doctrine," requiring that public issues be presented by broadcasters and that each side of those issues be given fair coverage. In No. 2, the FCC declared that petitioner Red Lion Broadcasting Co. had failed to meet its obligation under the fairness doctrine when it carried a program which constituted a personal attack on one Cook, and ordered it to send a transcript of the broadcast to Cook and provide reply time, whether or not Cook would pay for it. The Court of Appeals upheld the FCC's position. After the commencement of the Red Lion litigation the FCC began a rule-making proceeding to make the personal attack aspect of the fairness doctrine more precise and more readily enforceable, and to specify its rules relating to political editorials. The rules, as adopted and amended, were held unconstitutional by the Court of Appeals in RTNDA (No. 717), as abridging the freedoms of speech and press. Held:

                1. The history of the fairness doctrine and of related legislation shows that the FCC's action in the Red Lion case did not exceed its authority, and that in adopting the new regulations the FCC was implementing congressional policy. Pp. 375-386.

                (a) The fairness doctrine began shortly after the Federal Radio Commission was established to allocate frequencies among competing applicant in the public interest, and insofar as there is an affirmative obligation of the broadcaster to see that both sides are presented, the personal attack doctrine and regulations do not differ from the fairness doctrine. Pp. 375-379.

                (b) The FCC's statutory mandate to see that broadcasters operate in the public interest and Congress' reaffirmation, in the [368] 1959 amendment to 315 of the Communications Act, of the FCC's view that the fairness doctrine inhered in the public interest standard, support the conclusion that the doctrine and its component personal attack and political editorializing regulations are a legitimate exercise of congressionally delegated authority. Pp. 379-386.

                2. The fairness doctrine and its specific manifestations in the personal attack and political editorial rules do not violate the First Amendment. Pp. 386-401.

                MR. JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the Court.

                The Federal Communications Commission has for many years imposed on radio and television broadcasters the requirement that discussion of public issues be presented on broadcast stations, and that each side of those issues must be given fair coverage. This is known as the fairness doctrine, which originated very early in the history of broadcasting and has maintained its present outlines for some time. It is an obligation whose content has been defined in a long series of FCC rulings in particular cases, and which is distinct from the statutory [370] requirement of 315 of the Communications Act [note 1] that equal time be allotted all qualified candidates for public office. Two aspects of the fairness doctrine, relating to personal attacks in the context of controversial public issues and to political editorializing, were codified more precisely in the form of FCC regulations in 1967. The two cases before us now, which were decided separately below, challenge the constitutional and statutory bases of the doctrine and component rules. Red Lion [371] involves the application of the fairness doctrine to a particular broadcast, and RTNDA arises as an action to review the FCC's 1967 promulgation of the personal attack and political editorializing regulations, which were laid down after the Red Lion litigation had begun.




                Believing that the specific application of the fairness doctrine in Red Lion, and the promulgation of the regulations in RTNDA, are both authorized by Congress and enhance rather than abridge the freedoms of speech and press protected by the First Amendment, we hold them valid and constitutional, reversing the judgment below in RTNDA and affirming the judgment below in Red Lion.


                Red Lion

                However, today's Court would surely reach a different result.

    •  Include "Cable" (0+ / 0-)

      Through the terrestrial broadcast channels and any Content available on satellite (e.g., DirectTV)

      The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

      by nextstep on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 03:14:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Letters to the Prez? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HiKa, TomFromNJ, kalmoth, Betty Pinson

    Your paper letter will probably sit for three months being anti-terrorized by the Post Office.

    Fax it.

    And send copies (addressed to your Senators and reps personally, not "cc") either on paper or by fax to their local offices.

    I have spoken with a Senate staffer in Md who explained that local office mail that's addressed to the Senator gets forwarded without delay.

    Send it to the Senate office address and it sits in Mail Purgatory until the Mail Gods and their Bureaucratic Minoins has parboiled it sufficiently.

    Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

    by dadadata on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 03:30:36 AM PDT

  •  Excuse me but isn't Fred Upton the "gentleman" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Betty Pinson, neroden

    at the center of the Benton Harbor scandal? You know, the one who is involved with attempting to eliminate the elected local government of an African American community in order to "improve" its public park?

    I wonder why someone like that might want to get rid of a doctrine allowing all sides to be heard?

    Let America be America Again - Langston Hughes Rick Santorum

    by TheFatLadySings on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 04:31:16 AM PDT

  •  I see another point here; (8+ / 0-)

    Republicans have wanted to kill the FD for a long time.
    Repulicans have largely succeeded at this - non enforcement has been the de facto policy for over 20 yrs.
    Yet Republicans made a special point of asking an Obama appointee to strike the rule entirely.

    Republicans want.

    So...what are Republicans willing to offer in exchange?
    Dunno; because NOBODY ASKED FOR A DAMNED THING IN EXCHANGE in order to fulfill this want that Republicans have.

    Whether or not there is any merit to keeping or losing this rule, it is a gift to republicans to give them what they want with no payback of any kind.

    This move pisses away political capital for no purpose. appeasing republicans is impossible, gratitude among them is nonexistent, and they will spin this as Obama's weakness and/or their own mojo.

    Weak politics.

    Obama's like Bush? No. He's more like Cheney. They both shoot people in the face.

    by kamarvt on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 04:37:37 AM PDT

  •  Hasn't the Fairness Doctrine been dead (5+ / 0-)

    in all but name for quite some time? Sort of like the Sherman Antitrust Act?

    Here's a "lovely" quote for you Bill Clinton fans: “We can’t be so fixated on our desire to preserve the rights of ordinary Americans.” – Bill Clinton

    by Sagebrush Bob on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 05:05:55 AM PDT

    •  yeah, and sort of like the 4th amendment (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sagebrush Bob, neroden

      and other parts of the Bill of Rights.

      And democracy for that matter. We'll just keep twiddling our thumbs until we get to a sufficiently crappy state of society before we collectively overthrow corporatized government. I'm not sure whether we'll have to be at the level of Mexico, or Honduras, or Ethiopia before we get to that point, but by all appearances it's going to have to be pretty low.

      •  Equate it (0+ / 0-)

        with the 2nd (Co)Amendment and it will be sacred & worshiped, praise Marconi, for ever and ever 8-))

      •  Yeah, I've been debating when the government will (0+ / 0-)

        collapse or be overthrown.  I think it's really much harder to call timing on that sort of thing than anyone thinks.  The collapse of the federal government as we know it is an inevitability at this point, unless the Senate gets reformed anyway, but 5 years or 50 years?  
        No idea.

        Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

        by neroden on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 01:59:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Maybe to put it out of its misery (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kimball Cross, CA Nana

    The poor thing has been suffering and bleeding out for years after the mortal wounds it was dealt.  Maybe the FCC just can no longer watch its pain, and must administer the coup de gras to live up to the hunter's code.

  •  Well if Republicans want something (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CA Nana, slippytoad, Betty Pinson

    by all means let's move mountains to make sure they are satisfied. Otherwise baby might get angwy.

  •  in other words... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Betty Pinson

    the owners of this country want less regulation, and more free markets to enrapture the poor with...n/t

  •  If we're to believe President Obama... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kimball Cross, Betty Pinson

    we don't need the Fairness Doctrine.

    Because he was going to create and enact policies that decreased ownership share and increased diversity which would naturally lead to a plethora of varying voices.

    Of course, "WAS" is the operative word in that sentence.

    He failed on that too.

    More and Better Democrats

    by SJerseyIndy on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 05:37:32 AM PDT

    •  Obama's Libertarian leanings are a problem (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Betty Pinson

      He actually believes that he can create policies of this sort in the climate of Republican suppression of diversity.
      They don't want diversity, they want control.

      •  "Leanings" are the problem. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Betty Pinson

        Honestly, if he were a hardcore anarchist libertarian he would understand the danger posed by the fascist Republicans; he sure doesn't understand it.  The text of your comment is spot on.

        Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

        by neroden on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 01:57:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  My comment to the FCC (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomFromNJ, kalmoth, Betty Pinson

    I had just read you are thinking of striking the fairness doctrine from the "books" and I would like to comment that I think this is an horrible idea. I'm 46 years old. I remember what news was like before you stopped enforcing the fairness doctrine. It was worth watching. I don't watch news on tv now because it sucks. It's not news. It's entertainment. People are increasingly going online to get their news because most people realize how horrible the news is on tv. This trend will continue. Online, people seek out news that is to their liking or agrees with their world view. So the country will become even more fragmented. Keeping the fairness doctrine, enforcing it, and creating an equivalent for the web is an absolute necessity if this country is to find legitimate solutions to its problems. Otherwise, I believe, we will spiral down whilst screaming at each other and not listening to what the other is saying because each of us will only understand our point of view.

    •  My comment was a lot harsher (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I questioned whether they were representing me the fucking taxpayer who pads their wallet, or somebody else.

      I was fucking rude.  This is bullshit.

      Just in case you forgot today: REPUBLICANS VOTED TO END MEDICARE. AND THEY'LL DO IT AGAIN.

      by slippytoad on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 06:46:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm not sure this was due to the ending of (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the Fairness Doctrine. Read Three Blind Mice by Ken Auletta; he points out implicitly that the switch from news to entertainment started before the FD was gutted. It had more to do with new owners' ideals and debt management issues, since all news orgs were money drains "dragging down" the bottom lines of the networks.

  •  i thought the Fairness Doctrine was already dead (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D."
    I am a volunteer for Bob Massie for MA-Sen

    by TrueBlueMajority on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 05:48:32 AM PDT

  •  The fairness doctrine sucks... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    energysaver, bugscuffle, nextstep

    It presupposes there are two valid sides to an argument. In this day and age, however, there is the reality-based argument and the faith-based, bullshit distortions presented by the GOP. The latter deserves no time and certainly not government-enforced equal time. They've got enough sycophants carrying water for them all over the media as it is.....but at least it doesn't have the government's stamp of approval as being a legitimate counterpoint.

  •  It's outdated and unnecessary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rashaverak, bugscuffle

    Why keep something that would never be enforced again and would make little difference if ignored?

    If the Fairness Doctrine hasn't been used for decades, why the hell was it so important to keep?

    People panic too much on this site.

    by thematt523 on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 06:06:19 AM PDT

    •  Not at all (0+ / 0-)

      Its more necessary than ever.  

      Unless you want corporate owners to control public discourse and opinion in the US.

      Unless you want political campaigns where the candidate with the most corporate money gets to put their message before the public.

      It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. ~ Aristotle

      by Betty Pinson on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 12:48:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...great news for conservatives.  

    I guess Obama figures that since he's already lost all the free-thinking progressives (therefore the remaining progressive supporters are all fanbois) he might as well do things that attract independents.

    Because, let's face it:  if you haven't abandoned him already, you're not going to.  You're too invested.

  •  The Fairness Doctrine deserves to stay dead. (11+ / 0-)

    The justification for it was the "limited" public airwaves, and the notion that anyone who used the "limited" parameters for reaching the public had some obligation to present opposing views.

    "Limited" airwaves (i.e., the over-the-air networks) is no longer a problem.  We have cable tv, satellite tv, satellite radio, and internet, all of which would not be governed by any kind of Fairness Doctrine, as they are not the "public airwavs."  People who want to hear different views have no problem finding them.  The government no longer needs to decide what people should hear for their own good.   In addition, there are so many political views out there.  What is the "opposing" view to Hannity?  Can Hannity have Beckel on (as he often does) and say that's an "opposing view"? Can MSNBC have Pat Buchanan?  Can Scarborough have Mica?  Or does Big Brother look over the shoulder of all these people to decide whether that "opposing view" was sufficient?  

    The Fairness Doctrine did not (as many here want to believe in some kind of revisionist history) promote wider dissemination of progressive views.  Instead, it operated to water down any kind of political viewpoint precisely because the networks did not want to bring government involvement to force them to present some kind of opposing views.  

    And frankly, I don't want the federal government deciding what is, or is not, an "opposing view" to a particular commentator.  

    Anybody who WANTS to hear conservative views knows where to find them.  Anybody who WANTS to hear progressive views knows where to find them.  And people like me, frankly, who want to hear a reasonable debate of opposing views (rather than listening to a commentator simply preach to the choir) knows where to find those (although my options are more limited these days).  The government shouldn't be telling me, or anybody else, what I "should" be forced to hear, nor should the government decide what "opposing view" is legitimate or not.  

    •  You clearly (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gustogirl, miller415, Betty Pinson

      Were not an adult (or maybe not even born) before 1988.  Or you'd fucking know better.

      Just in case you forgot today: REPUBLICANS VOTED TO END MEDICARE. AND THEY'LL DO IT AGAIN.

      by slippytoad on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 06:47:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I agree... (0+ / 0-)

      "anybody who WANTS to hear conservative views ( or progressive view)knows where to find them".   If you want the conservative view, just turn on your TV or radio.  It is only on 90% of the channels owned by transglobal corporations.  if you are looking for the progressive view, it's out there, somehow you'll find it.

      If the "government "shouldn't be telling you what to hear, should they be telling you how fast you can drive? How much mercury you can dump in the streams and oceans?

      Yes, the libertarian view is why should the "government tell me this or that.   The point you/they miss that in a democratic/republic we are government.  There are a few libertarian countire in the world.  but I don't think Liberia or Somolia are countries we should be emulating.

      I was the youngest in my family growing up therefore I WAS the remote control.

      •  It's actually a FIRST AMENDMENT view. (7+ / 0-)

        "Congress shall make no law . . .  abridging the freedom of speech."  

        To quote Justice Hugo Black, I read "Congress shall make no law" to mean Congress shall make no law.

        And if you are Ok with President Obama's FCC telling Hannity who he has to have on his radio show and how much time he needs to give them in opposition, I assume it would be just fine with you if President Palin or Huckabee's FCC gets to tell Maddow who she needs to have on her show or how much time she needs to give them.

        I'm not.  The First Amendment says that the government needs to keep its nose out of that completely.  The ONLY justification for the Fairness Doctrine was when there were "limited airwaves" and that absence of choices justified it.  

        The absence of choices exists no longer.  Yes, conservatives dominate talk radio, but there was a progressive option -- it failed commercially because, for whatever reason, not enough people in the markets where it was broadcast chose to listen.  (See this by the founder of Air America.)

        And liberals/progressives dominate the internet blogs.  I suppose you'd be ok with a President Palin's FCC telling this site what it needed in terms of "opposing views"?  

        People CHOOSE to listen to Limbaugh precisely because of what he says.  Nobody forces them to turn on the radio.  Nobody forces them to choose his station over NPR, music stations, or any of their other choices.  The government has no business telling people who CHOOSE to listen to Limbaugh that they have to listen to "opposing views" if they don't want to.  Government has no business deciding what political views the public needs to hear.  Because if it plays that role, it will certainly decide that the political views that the public "needs" to hear are the political views of those who run the government.  That's EXACTLY what the First Amendment is supposed to protect against.  

        The ONLY justification for the Fairness Doctrine EVER was back in the days when people generally got their news from one of three sources -- ABC, NBC, or CBS. Those days are long gone.  The Fairness doctrine is properly long gone as well.    

        •  What coffeetalk said. eom (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
        •  It doesn't restrict free speech (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          that's a GOP argument.

          Its a regulation that protects the openness and public access to public communication.

          It prevents powerful and wealthy groups or individuals from controlling public communication in the US.

          It reinforces good journalistic standards and allows both sides of an issue equal access.

          If the Fairness Doctrine was bad for Democrats, Reagan never would have abolished it.

          Think for yourself, it can be very liberating.

          It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. ~ Aristotle

          by Betty Pinson on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 12:54:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Well I can't find a progressive view (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      miller415, kalmoth, Betty Pinson

      anywhere on my TV or radio.  

      There are huge swaths of this nation, mostly rural, where the only choices you have for news are right-wing or wing-nut.

      The right wing fears the Fairness Doctrine for a reason:  they are the ones responsible for the huge numbers of misinformed people in this country, because they present a "reality" that differs from the real world.

      So, I don't care how they do it, but the government needs to step in and step up to this problem.  No one is holding these propagandists accountable.

      Accountability is the problem.  They are licensed to lie.

      Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth - Abraham Lincoln

      by Gustogirl on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 07:55:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The First Amendment means the (5+ / 0-)

        government can't do that.  The First Amendment was DESIGNED to prevent the government from deciding who the "propagandists" are.  The First Amendment was designed to prevent the government from playing any role whatsoever in weighing the merits, or accuracy, of political viewpoints.  

        If progressives don't like the choices in free speech, the remedy is more free speech, not less free speech.  That's the basic, most fundamental concept behind the First Amendment -- that there is almost never a reason for stifling political speech.   And the other fundamental, basic premise is that the government cannot do anything to promote one political view over another.  Even if it thinks that one political view is completely illegitimate (lies, propaganda, whatever) it cannot promote other political views over that one.  Period.  That's the basic premise of the First Amendment.

        Start your own progressive network (see this from the founder of Air America).  There are LOTS of rich liberals/progressives.  If there is money to be made in a progressive outlet, they could fund one.  Or they could buy a station and convert it.  There are more conservative talk radio outlets now for one reason -- ratings, which translates to money.  Limbaugh is on the air so pervasively for one reason -- ratings.

        And you certainly can find progressive views -- you found this site, didn't you?  The fact that conservatives dominate talk radio and progressives/liberals dominate internet blogs doesn't mean that people can't find the views they want to listen to or read.  And MSNBC has deliberately positioned itself as the left's alternative to Fox News.  Partisans on the left can watch MSNBC, and partisans on the right can watch Fox News, for reinforcement of their views.  Is it the government's role to tell MSNBC viewers that they have to listen to x minutes of right wing views?  

        I don't think the government should be in the business of tell Ed's listeners that they have to spend equal time listening to Hannity.  Of of telling DailyKos bloggers that they have to spend equal time on  

        •  You're right, the government (0+ / 0-)

          shouldn't tell me who to listen to.

          But the government does have a responsibility to ensure the public good.

          Lies, widely promulgated, do not serve the public good.  The spread of ignorance, hate, and disinformation does not serve the public good.

          So, if not the Fairness Doctrine, then what?  

          Because the dismal state of journalism in this country is actually turning into a threat against our national security.  When we have militias being formed because of Glenn Beck's lies, I think we have a problem.  When we have a misinformed citizenry, I think we have a problem.  When media is the architect of a permanent national polarization, I think we have a problem.

          You have not addressed the issue of accountability.  I get it that you don't like the Fairness Doctrine, but can you at least recognize that we have a big problem?   I mean take your example that Ed/Hannity viewers must spend equal time between them.  How ridiculous is that?  They can't even begin a conversation because they aren't even remotely in the same reality.  That is the fruit of 25 years of the FCC ignoring the public good.

          I don't have the resources, the expertise, the capital, the time to start my own progressive national television cable company.  That is a ludicrous argument - Rich Liberals are not the equivalent of multinational, mega corporations.  In the world of wealth, Rich Liberals are at the bottom.

          The bottom line is that the people who own these tools have so much power and wealth that they are flagrantly abusing it.  Wall Street, Banksters, Oil, Media - all are abusing the public good with their power and wealth and all need to be reined in.

          Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth - Abraham Lincoln

          by Gustogirl on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 08:58:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Nope. The Government does not have the (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            pico, Rashaverak, bugscuffle, nextstep

            responsibility to promote the public good when it comes to speech.  

            "Congress shall make no law" means Congress shall make no law.  The government has no role in promoting political speech "for the public good."  The First Amendment was put in place precisely so that the government would not get to decide what kind of speech is "for the public good."  That is because your idea of what speech is "for the public good" is very very very different from what President Palin's idea of what speech is "for the public good" would be.  So, when it comes to speech, the government must stay completely out of decided what's for the public good.  SCOTUS case after SCOTUS case has held that any restrictions on political speech -- such as time, place, and manner restrictions limiting protests or the like to certain places -- must be completely content neutral.  That is, the First Amendment means that government must treat all political speech alike -- regardless of whether those in power think the speech is "for the public good" or not.  

            The system is not perfect.  No system involving human beings is. But it is far, far, far  better than giving those in power the ability to decide what speech is "in the public good" and giving those in power the ability to promote speech that they think is "in the public good."  

            The optimistic thing is that it is getting easier and easier to get a political point of view out there, or to find the views you want.  This site, and others like it, are the best example of that.

            With respect to things like cable tv, which are private ventures (and thus their speech is protected under the First Amendment) the government has no business whatsoever promoting speech it thinks is "in the public good."  The speech you dislike stays on the air because enough people -- relatively speaking -- choose to tune in.  That's it. If and when people stop -- if and when ratings drop -- they go off the air.  It's that simple.  

            •  There are constraints on free speech (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              and as far as I'm concerned, blatantly lying to the public and inciting violence with such lies is equivalent to yelling "fire" in a crowded theater.

              I'll be first in line to fight for free speech - equal free speech.

              And today, it ain't equal.

              Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth - Abraham Lincoln

              by Gustogirl on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 10:50:35 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  No again. (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                pico, Rashaverak, bugscuffle, nextstep

                That "falsely yelling fire in a crowded theater" notion comes from Schenck v. United States,  which is no longer an accurate statement of the law.  

                The test for when speech loses its First Amendment protection is in Brandenburg v. Ohio, where the SCOTUS said that speech is protected unless it is directed to incite imminent lawless action -- imminent as in, right at this second and right at this place, as in "take this gun here in my hand and shoot that cop over there" -- and is likely to cause that imminent lawless action.  Under that test, everything Limbaugh and others say on the air is clearly, clearly protected by the First Amendment. (It's important to keep in mind that the Brandenburg type precedents were, at the time, considered important milestones to protect the speech of Vietnam War protesters.)  

                While the First Amendment guarantees that government will not interfere in your exercise of free speech, it most assuredly DOES NOT guarantee that speech is ever going to be "equal."  There is no constitutional right -- none, zero, zilch -- to "equal" free speech. The constitutional right is that the government won't stop speech, not that it will do anything to make sure that speech is "equal."  It would be patently and obviously unconstitutional for the government, for example, to do anything to limit the free speech rights of the Koch brothers on the notion that others need "equal free speech."  There is no such notion as "equal free speech."  If speech is not "equal," it is up to the people -- not the government -- to remedy that.  "Equal" is a value judgment about the content of speech -- who needs to have it, what views should be equal to what other views, what views are "fringe" views (for example, does the KKK get "equal free speech"?) and the government is absolutely prohibited from making value judgments about the content of speech, especially political speech.  

                Again, if you don't like the majority of the political speech out there, the only constitutional remedy is more speech to compete with it.  And it's up to the people -- not the government -- to provide that speech. Government cannot subsidize or promote one view or another in an attempt to make speech "equal."  

                •  The government IS the people. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Betty Pinson, neroden

                  At least, that used to be the idea.

                  We, the individual people, do not have the means to "compete" with high dollar messaging.  It is the government, acting as the agent for the people, that has the means to protect.

                  I was just checking out your comment history and noted an inconsistency:  you defend Fox's right to lie yet are appalled when the diapered Vitter is mentioned, because it's a lie!

                  This really isn't your kind of blog, is it?

                  I won't be responding further except to demonstrate to others your history here.

                  Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth - Abraham Lincoln

                  by Gustogirl on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 11:33:27 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  No, I'm a lawyer. And I'm pointing out (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    pico, Rashaverak, bugscuffle

                    First Amendment law, with links.   If you think I'm wrong about the Constitution and the First Amendment, I'd be happy to hear your thoughts.  

                    The government may have the "means" to have the speech of individuals "compete" with the speech of, say, the Kochs or Michael Moore.  The government has the "means" to fund individual speech so as to achieve some notion of "equal" speech.  It's just that the First Amendment prohibits it.   The government has the "means" to do a lot of things that are prohibited by the First Amendment, like support smaller, less popular churches so that there will be "equal" religious freedom for those who want to exercise those religious beliefs.  It's just that the First Amendment prohibits it.  

                    For First Amendment purposes, the Constitution does not consider the government to be the people.  It says "Congress shall make no law . . .  abridging the freedom of speech."  That's a limit on Congress.  The First Amendment is not a right granted to the people -- it's written as a limit on the power of the government.  

                    And you have misinterpreted my comment history, of course, but I don't have any intention of arguing with you about that.  Misconstruing my posting history is a statement saying "I don't have any answer to your argument here, so I'll try to taint you personally."  I understand.  

                  •  That's a really sad comment. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    coffeetalk is correct on the history and correct on the principles: if anything's been demonstrated, it's that you're not arguing this point in good faith.  

                    The central question here is whether there is or should be a set of guidelines for anyone holding a broadcast license, and the parameters of justification established by the original Fairness Doctrine no longer exist.   So, as kalmoth is asking above, are there a new set of parameters to justify a new version of the FD?  Personally I don't think there are, because whatever justification you use has to be narrow enough to survive a constitutional challenge, and where that narrowness may have existed in the 1940s because of the level and accessibility of the time's technology, it certainly doesn't exist now.  Not liking the stuff you see on television isn't justification enough: the courts will decide, correctly, that you have more than enough alternatives for getting your news and viewpoints.

                    Do I agree fully with that you have a plethora of alternatives?  No, but that's an issue of media consolidation, which is an entirely different issue: break up the monopolies, and the landscape will change considerably.  But you won't solve that problem with a weak-tea FD, like putting a band-aid on a gaping wound.

                    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

                    by pico on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 11:52:13 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Still wrong. Original parameters still exist. (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      In the radio market, which is the ONLY market when outdoors in a rural area, the conditions have not changed, and the original justifications (limited airwaves) for the Fairness Doctrine still exist.

                      I don't really give a damn about the "Fairness Doctrine" in other media, but in radio, with limited airwaves, we need it back.

                      Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

                      by neroden on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 02:03:15 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Wrong: (0+ / 0-)

                        The original parameters were based on FCC requirements that anyone who held broadcast licenses had to devote a certain portion of the day to news and public interest information.  If the FCC maintained that requirement, much less their belief in radio as the primary vessel of news communication to the public, then it would have justification for setting parameters on that requirement.  But it doesn't - nor would it, so it doesn't.*  

                        Already in the early 80s the judges were questioning whether the access justification was still relevant: see FCC v. League of Women Voters of California.  Why do you think that would stand a court challenge thirty years later?

                        Attacking media consolidation would accomplish pretty much everything you wanted, except in a constitutionally defensible way.

                        * for what it's worth, kalmoth isn't arguing a return to the original version, but I challenge anyone to suggest a version that wouldn't run afoul of a First Amendment challenge based on the majority comments in the case I cited.

                        Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

                        by pico on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 03:22:53 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                  •  You're exactly right (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    neroden, Gustogirl

                    Freedom of speech doesn't just belong to only those who can afford it.

                    I suspect those arguing otherwise also know better.

                    It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. ~ Aristotle

                    by Betty Pinson on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 12:57:49 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

        •  Not true (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Keeping the airwaves open and fair doesn't hinder your right to free speech, it protects it.

          The Fairness Doctrine enhances and supports the right to free speech by preventing one POV from monopolizing the airwaves.

          It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. ~ Aristotle

          by Betty Pinson on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 12:56:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Yes and No (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The Fairness Doctrine is dead, and it will stay dead, since it was the courts that ultimately killed it.  And in many respects, I'm just as happy to see it stay dead.  You're also right in noting that the Fairness Doctrine never did apply to cable TV.

      But to suggest that cable TV is any part of the remedy to limited airwaves is a point I strongly disagree with.  In a broadcast universe,  the number of gatekeepers matches the number of separate broadcast station owners in a given market.  With cable (or satellite), you have a single gatekeeper who is selecting programming offerings from a highly consolidated group of media conglomerates.  Independently owned networks need not apply.  If anythng, cable makes the situation worse, not better.

      Right now, the Internet is more open -- and we need to ensure (through net neutrality rules) that it stays that way.  Net neutrality is our best bet for at least ensuring that diverse views can be expressed -- although it certainly provides no guarantee that those views will be heard by anyone other than fellow true believers.

      Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

      by TexasTom on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 10:58:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The airwaves are still limited (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      They're controlled by people who own them who charge the public to view them.

      No, if you like democracy, the public should own the airwaves, not mega-corporate monopolies.

      It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. ~ Aristotle

      by Betty Pinson on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 12:50:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Limited airwaves remains a problem. (0+ / 0-)

      Ask yourself what's available on the radio in your car, then get back to me with a retraction of your ENTIRE argument.

      Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

      by neroden on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 02:00:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Um, in my market (0+ / 0-)

        Limbaugh's only on one station.  The same one that has Hannity and those others.  I don't listen to that station.  I have a lot of other choices.  Like WWL radio in New Orleans, NPR, and some pop stations, some rap, and too much country music for my taste.  And I don't have satellite radio.  

  •  It's not really relevent (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IPLawyer, Rashaverak, nextstep

    I am one liberal that doesn't want the fairness doctrine.  It would be nearly impossible to enforce, and who would determine what the opposing viewpoint is?  The news station?  Imagine Faux with that latitude.  

    "This guy has swallowed his integrity whole, and you can just see it." Sam Seder comment on Chris Christie

    by otto on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 06:40:26 AM PDT

  •  Mixing apples and oranges? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe, neroden

    The Fairness Doctrine hasn't been used for decades. As a poster above correctly noted, it's media consolidation that is the problem. When a corporation can buy out every progressive radio station in an area and run them at a loss (as sports channels?) that's a political contribution. When you drive through the country in one of those rectangular states and all you get on AM radio is Rush, while on FM radio the "god channels" up their kilowatts and drown out the public radio in the same band range, that's wrong--technically illegal, but who's enforcing it.

    The Fairness Doctrine has nothing to do with it. Let the RushHeads listen to Rush. Asking his channel to broadcast Randi Rhodes wouldn't make sense. But make it illegal to squelch other voices on other channels.

    It's even dangerous. When so many channels are interlinked and managed remotely, there can be disasters that leave rural areas with no communication at all.

    BTW, when the GOP tries to cut funding for broadband in rural and inner city areas, they are really trying to maintain Rush's monopoly on information.

  •  If you are in favor of corporations... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Betty Pinson

    flooding the airwaves with just one point of view, mainly the point of view that will benefit trans global corporations and the richest 1 %, then yes, I can see why you would be against the fairness doctrine.  

    I feel the need for it because what is best in the interest of the middle class and the poor (mainly most people who read and post on DKos) is usually the opposite of what the corporatist/ trust fund brigade want.  If we had a strong fairness doctrine enacted during the healthcare debate, would the debate have been so lopsided?   Maybe there would have been more representation for those who believed in a single payer system.  

    I read a couple of days ago that 81% on fox news were against greenhouse regulations .  No one should be surpised of that but I would be interested in how other corporate sponsored media/news did on equal time.

    By the way, having two opposing views given is not "obsolete" or "outdated".  

    I was the youngest in my family growing up therefore I WAS remote control.

    •  The idea that an issue has 2 opposing views (0+ / 0-)

      is both outdated and obsolete.

      The healthcare debate is a good example.

      A fairness doctrine would ensure that you heard a viewpoint for and against the ACA. It would not ensure that single payer was discussed.

  •  No big deal (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Its not enforced and in the multi media world of today - its really  not necessary.

    The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. --George Orwell

    by jgkojak on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 07:30:49 AM PDT

  •  AM radio or for the Internet? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    So do you want the Fairness Doctrine for AM radio or for all media that use the airwaves?

    The Internet goes over the public airwaves - WiFi and Mobile Networks use our airwaves.  Should websites that don't comply to the doctrine be blocked from mobile devices?

    Should the DNC website be subject to the fairness doctrine?

    The Fairness Doctrine is an anachronism, it made sense  when New York City only had 5 TV stations not now.

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 07:42:45 AM PDT

    •  AM & FM radio (only). (0+ / 0-)

      See the comment below about rural areas.  We NEED the fairness doctrine for AM and FM radio, with the limited spectrum available.

      The Internet is not a broadcast medium or "information service" like TV; it's a telecommunications service like the phone.  The FCC needs to reverse its asinine and criminal ruling on THAT matter as well.

      The criminal and wrong FCC ruling on that is the way the FCC is trying to prevent Net Neutrality from being enforced, trying to allow criminal censorship and spying by major corporations on your Internet communications.

      Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

      by neroden on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 02:06:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The big spectrum issue today is Internet (0+ / 0-)

        use not AM and FM radio.

        Why the exclusion of Broadcast TV?

        On the Internet you  choose which URL to go to, and on Radio and Broadcast TV you choose your channel.

        Twitter is a broadcast media.

        It's just physics that any use of spectrum is broadcasted.

        It's unrealistic to assert that government oversees the "fairness " of content in only a select few media rather than broadly - because this selection of media will be seen for what it is - a form of content bias.

        You need to accept that the very idea of freedom of political speech means that we accept speech we don't agree with because this ensures our speech will not be blocked.  The danger of giving government the power to control political speech is far greater than anything private individual or organizations can do.

        The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

        by nextstep on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 02:38:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The right wing suppressed the fairness (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    doctrine long ago to gain more airtime to enhance their agenda and it has worked for decades. This issue is important given that the MSM (despite popular opinion to the contrary) is so slanted in favor of the Repugs. As long as the doctrine exists, it can be revived and they do not want that.  

    Thanks for this diary. I think the issue you raise is an important one. When they are allowed to destroy entirely any hope for equal treatment, we are headed down another slippery slope.

    "Southern nights have you ever felt a southern night?" Allen Toussaint ~~Remember the Gulf of Mexico~~

    by rubyr on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 08:16:14 AM PDT

  •  Surprise, surprise! Yet another Obama (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RickD, neroden

    appointee staking out a policy position which just coincidentally happens to align with corporate / plutocratic rule of our society.

    The hits - they just keep on coming, don't they?

    FDR said, "I welcome their hate!" Obama referred to them as "Savvy Businessmen". Any questions?

    by Johnathan Ivan on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 08:57:36 AM PDT

  •  Rural Listening (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kalmoth, trinite, neroden, Betty Pinson, Vega

    Take a drive in the rural parts of our country. Tell me if you have a chance to tune into a radio station that has other than conservative drivel. The non-coast, non-city parts of our country are dominated for the most part by fulminating right-wingers. Don't forget, these areas elect Senators. Shouldn't the few existing radio stations in these communities be required to offer different point of view? Also, try to find some high speed internet with a inexpensive connection in these communities. These are the places where we need fairness.

  •  Maybe the Fairness Doctrine could become "Truth (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bill W, kalmoth

    Doctrine".  If someone tells a verified lie on air (cable or radio), commercial or commentary, an equal and opposite fact period must be presented at similar time of day.  The broadcaster can either make the correction himself or provide the fact checker with the verified info to counter the lie.  The problem is there is no consequences for lying on the air, either politician or pundit.  I also think that any politician that has a commercial with a verified lie must correct that lie in next commercial or he receives no further airtime.  I see this democracy being ruined by lies.  Rush lies every day but ditto heads never hear about it so they think he is telling the real story.  After awhile, these ditto heads live in a very unreal world (their own creation) but if there was a Truth Doctrine, these Ditto heads would be told the truth about issues.  Now I know there are not necessarily facts for every statement, opinion being an example.  That is OK as long as it is labeled as opinion, but if the presenter says it is a fact, he needs to be prepared to defend that fact as truth.  Things would change immediately.

    "War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength", George Orwell, "1984" -7.63 -5.95

    by dangoch on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 09:16:58 AM PDT

    •  I'd like to see networks do this. (0+ / 0-)

      News networks should take a zero tolerance policy toward lying. I suggest the following form letter:

      Dear ___,
      As a recent guest on our network, you made a statement (transcript attached) which our research department has determined to be false.  The next time you appear on our network, you will be given thirty seconds to apologize to our viewers and correct your statement.  If you do not wish to avail yourself of this opportunity, we will no longer be in need of your services.

  •'s already dead. (0+ / 0-)

    It's not going to be brought back.

    So I have no problem with it being deleted, just as any other obsolete law should be deleted.

    IMO we should focus our energies on coming up with a new regulation that would actually help our communications be more fair. And that's not the Fairness Doctrine.

    "This is about the human heart, and if that sounds corny, so be it." -- Keith Olbermann

    by allergywoman on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 09:18:49 AM PDT

  •  WTF (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Look, the Fairness Doctrine has not been FCC policy since the Reagan administration. That's why there's Rush Limbaugh.  That also happens to be why Kos doesn't have to give equal bandwidth to Drudge, which is a good thing.  Anyway, you really ought to redraft this, because you're simply in error.  Hey, anybody can make a mistake.  

    •  It would have helped... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RickD, pico, neroden

      had you read the diary prior to commenting, but I know that's asking for too much. Have a lovely day.

      •  Yeah, would also help (0+ / 0-)

        if you had a clue about the stuff you're expounding in the diary I supposedly didn't read, which you don't, because if you did you'd see that the revival of the Doctrine would support any Republican administration's attack on any left wing site from here to Pandagon.  That's not going to happen because the Doctrine is now about as useful to anyone as, say, flash powder is useful for your digital camera.  It's obsolete. That stuff about public rights is, or was,  a real-estate idea left over from when bandwidth meant UHF and VHF and AM and FM TV and radio, and there was only so much of that real estate to go around so (the idea went) it should be shared like a public park.  The idea has earhairs now, mostly because of this thing called (I don't know know to clue you in on this, so I'll just say it) the Internet which is a network of digitally based...oh, never mind.

        Look, the old Fairness Doctrine was a nice liberal idea. I liked it, back then. But there is no idea sillier than an idea whose time is gone.

        •  AM & FM still have limited bandwidth (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Betty Pinson, kalmoth

          And have you ever been out for a drive in a rural area?  Where are your alternatives?...

          Yeah, thought you were just that thoughtless.  You know damned well, if you bother to THINK about it, that nothing has changed when it comes to the limited spectrum for AM and FM radio, and that those still remain the ONLY available sources of information when out driving in a rural area.

          So, ready to reinstall the Fairness Doctrine for AM & FM?   'Cause you should be.

          Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

          by neroden on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 02:08:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not a bandwidth issue (0+ / 0-)

            You are confusing bandwidth with number of stations you can receive, rural markets have far more surplus bandwidth than in cities.

            In many of these rural markets existing stations can be purchased cheaply, or one can start their own station and get an FCC license.

            AM and FM radio are in decline.

            There are other choices for listening in rural areas, XM and Sirius radio, CDs, MP3, podcasts, etc.

            The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

            by nextstep on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 03:33:01 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  hope your day gets better, bye n/t (0+ / 0-)
    •  That's demagoguery (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      neroden, kalmoth

      Reminds me of arguments against the ERA, when right wingers like Phyllis Schlafly claimed women and men would have to share public restrooms.

      It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. ~ Aristotle

      by Betty Pinson on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 01:00:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  since he is an obama appointment (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    his right wing policies cant be blamed on congress.

  •  I am hoping the fairness doctrine will not pass (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rashaverak, bugscuffle, nextstep

    I am careful what I wish for.
    I believe in freedom of choice.
       I choose to not turn on Limbaugh or anyone else that I view as an extreme antagonist.
      I wouldn't want to see Limbaugh  on CNN three times a week because of the fairness doctrine.

  •  Too bad we don't have a Democratic president. n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Betty Pinson, shaharazade

    Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope... --RFK

    by expatjourno on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 11:23:24 AM PDT

  •  As watered down as media is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The Fairness doctrine is moot in reality.

    When there were three networks who controlled the topic and the tone - OK - I fully understand and appreciate it.

    But if you add up all the print, radio, television, online, streaming and add all the rest of the non-US news outlets available to Americans - it is moot.

    It hasn't been in effect for over 20 years - the Repugs use it against us - so I say good riddence.

    The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government. - Thomas Jefferson

    by ctexrep on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 11:56:26 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for this posting! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Betty Pinson, kalmoth

    This is my comment submitted under Future of Media:

    Media democracy and the public interest are under assault. For example, broadcasters have repeatedly failed to cover the environment, massive unemployment, and other societal concerns. Anti-regulatory philosophy has effectively ended the right of access to broadcast television by any but the moneyed interests.

    The public airwaves belong to me but I and a majority of other Americans have lost access to balanced broadcasting when we are bombarded with thousands of hours of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity with no palliative response to those bigoted assholes.

  •  I thought it was already dead thanks to rotten (0+ / 0-)

    Reagan and his evil minions.

    The radical Republican party is the party of oppression, fear, loathing and above all more money and power for the people who robbed us.

    by a2nite on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 01:09:49 PM PDT

  •  The Telecommunication Act of 1996 (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cardboardurinal, nextstep, kalmoth

    Can't really blame that on the Republicans. Pretty sleazy to have the Administration's FCC announce that fairness is no longer required, kinda like the general welfare or common good, they are doctrines that interfere with the MARKET.    

  •  FWIW I agree Fairness Doctrine is outmoded (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bugscuffle, Rashaverak

    The problem is, and always has been, the concept of "two sides to every story" and who exactly defines fairness. With respect to the public airwaves, they're such a tiny part of the public discussion it seems pointless to require "fairness" at each individual station. What we should be focussed on instead are things like freeing up spectrum for community radio, greater public TV access (without having to go through PBS), and from the FCC, perhaps instead of a "fairness" doctrine some enforcement of slander law through regulation instead.

    Some people are intolerant, and I CAN'T STAND people like that. -- Tom Lehrer

    by TheCrank on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 02:36:21 PM PDT

    •  The other problem is this: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Broadcasters, instead of worrying if they've allowed equal time to both or all sides, or how to define what a side is, etc etc etc etc etc, choose instead to air pablum.

      Why don't you try reading the rules, Shankopotamus?

      by bugscuffle on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 02:53:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Airing of Pablum (0+ / 0-)
        Broadcasters, instead of worrying if they've allowed equal time to both or all sides, or how to define what a side is, etc etc etc etc etc, choose instead to air pablum

        The FD has never required equal time.

        Broadcasters are already mostly airing pablum, even though it is quite clear that the FCC has not and will not enforce the FD.

        In the Red Lion case, those attacking the FD made the same argument.  Here is what the Court said:



        It is strenuously argued, however, that if political editorials or personal attacks will trigger an obligation in broadcasters to afford the opportunity for expression [393] to speakers who need not pay for time and whose views are unpalatable to the licensees, then broadcasters will be irresistibly forced to self-censorship and their coverage of controversial public issues will be eliminated or at least rendered wholly ineffective. Such a result would indeed be a serious matter, for should licensees actually eliminate their coverage of controversial issues, the purposes of the doctrine would be stifled.

        At this point, however, as the Federal Communications Commission has indicated, that possibility is at best speculative. The communications industry, and in particular the networks, have taken pains to present controversial issues in the past, and even now they do not assert that they intend to abandon their efforts in this regard.[note 19] It would be better if the FCC's encouragement were never necessary to induce the broadcasters to meet their responsibility. And if experience with the administration of these doctrines indicates that they have the net effect of reducing rather than enhancing the volume and quality of coverage, there will be time enough to reconsider the constitutional implications. The fairness doctrine in the past has had no such overall effect.

        That this will occur now seems unlikely, however, since if present licensees should suddenly prove timorous, the Commission is not powerless to insist that they give adequate and fair attention to public issues. [394] It does not violate the First Amendment to treat licensees given the privilege of using scarce radio frequencies as proxies for the entire community, obligated to give suitable time and attention to matters of great public concern. To condition the granting or renewal of licenses on a willingness to present representative community views on controversial issues is consistent with the ends and purposes of those constitutional provisions forbidding the abridgment of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Congress need not stand idly by and permit those with licenses to ignore the problems which beset the people or to exclude from the airways anything but their own views of fundamental questions. The statute, long administrative practice, and cases are to this effect.

        Licenses to broadcast do not confer ownership of designated frequencies, but only the temporary privilege of using them. 47 U.S.C. 301. Unless renewed, they expire within three years. 47 U.S.C. 307 (d). The statute mandates the issuance of licenses if the "public convenience, interest, or necessity will be served thereby." 47 U.S.C. 307 (a). In applying this standard the Commission for 40 years has been choosing licensees based in part on their program proposals. In FRC v. Nelson Bros. Bond & Mortgage Co., 289 U.S. 266, 279 (1933), the Court noted that in "view of the limited number of available broadcasting frequencies, the Congress has authorized allocation and licenses." In determining how best to allocate frequencies, the Federal Radio Commission considered the needs of competing communities and the programs offered by competing stations to meet those needs; moreover, if needs or programs shifted, the Commission could alter its allocations to reflect those shifts. Id., at 285. In the same vein, in FCC v. Pottsville Broadcasting Co., 309 U.S. 134, 137-138 (1940), the Court noted that [395] the statutory standard was a supple instrument to effect congressional desires "to maintain . . . a grip on the dynamic aspects of radio transmission" and to allay fears that "in the absence of governmental control the public interest might be subordinated to monopolistic domination in the broadcasting field." Three years later the Court considered the validity of the Commission's chain broadcasting regulations, which among other things forbade stations from devoting too much time to network programs in order that there be suitable opportunity for local programs serving local needs. The Court upheld the regulations, unequivocally recognizing that the Commission was more than a traffic policeman concerned with the technical aspects of broadcasting and that it neither exceeded its powers under the statute nor transgressed the First Amendment in interesting itself in general program format and the kinds of programs broadcast by licensees. National Broadcasting Co. v. United States, 319 U.S. 190 (1943).

        Red Lion.

        Of course, that was a different era, and a very different Court.

  •  From the Trade Press (0+ / 0-)
    Death of Fairness Doctrine may deprive hosts of go-to topic

    At least one observer thinks that getting rid of the Fairness Doctrine may have a very bad effect on the very people getting rid of it is supposed to protect – radio talk show hosts. The theory is that the next time there is a particularly slow news day, or somebody in Congress complains about something they heard on the radio, the hosts will have lost a valuable topic of conversation.

    The article is from Atlantic Monthly’s John Hudson and was made available on Yahoo News.



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