Based on extensive monitoring of Talk Radio in Milwaukee during the Scott Walker recall, which proved that Clear Channel and Journal Communications were giving about $70,000 every day in free airtime to the GOP but virtually none to Democrats, Media Action Center has filed a formal complaint with the FCC to enforce the Zapple Doctrine.
The FCC killed the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, and formally buried it in 2011, because the agency ruled it chilled, rather than enhanced, free speech.
The little known Zapple Doctrine, however, which has never been repealed, does the opposite. In the 60 days prior to an election, it provides that if a broadcaster provides time to supporters of one major party candidate, it must provide time to supporters of the other major party candidate. We argue that Zapple enhances, rather than chills free speech. We further argue that per the Supreme Court in Red Lion v FCC, "the First Amendment does not protect private censorship by broadcasters who are licensed by the Government to use a scarce resource which is denied to others." (Read the entire complaint for full arguments.)
The industry periodical Talkers Magazine wrote of this complaint:
if it can be proved as alleged by Sue Wilson and the Media Action Center that these Milwaukee radio stations consistently only interviewed or promoted a single candidate without ever providing air time to his opponent, it is not only possible, but likely that the FCC would not apply the exception and would require equal time for the other candidates.This is a VERY SERIOUS complaint, one that could change the talk radio game come fall, but we need public support. Please sign our petition to tell the FCC we want the Zapple Rule enforced! Stand up for free speech for ALL in the run up to elections.
The FCC rules on this matter may have a significant effect on the upcoming Fall national and state elections.