I know I’m about a week late on this one, but on the 4th of July, the OC Regsiter ran an editorial saying there is “nothing fair about the Fairness Doctrine.”Ã‚Â
In 1987, deregulation of the broadcast industry effectively did away with the Fairness Doctrine which was this requirement that opposing viewpoints be carriedÃ‚Â in news, public affairs and talk programming. The current Congress recently voted to deny the FCC funding to re-impose the Fairness Doctrine.Ã‚Â The Register views the Fairness Doctrine as government regulation of free speech and this is a short sighted view.
Deregulation of the broadcast industry in 1987 signaled a rebirth of the AM dial as talk radio bloomed.Ã‚Â Most of these programs are conservative in nature.Ã‚Â Without the Fairess Doctrine, these conservative hosts were no longer required to air an opposing viewpoint (when they could do what Fox News does have have weak-spined liberals on to try and uhold a progressive point of view; think HANNITY and colmes…..).
The goal of the fairness doctrine really hs nothing to do with free speech and everyone to do with ensuring the public airwaves are being used in the public interest.Ã‚Â
Newspapers can have a liberal or conservative bias, as can magazines, or blog pages.Ã‚Â It’s print media and government doesn’t own the printing presses.Ã‚Â Likewise, Cable TV networks like Fox News could carry a right wing bias because cable TV signals are delivered on demand via wire.Ã‚Â Documentaries are films; if they are good, people pay to see them.Ã‚Â If not, they attract a small audience.
Radio and commercial TV networks need a license to operate over an assigned spectrum on the public airwaves.Ã‚Â The FCC is charged with making sure certain broadcast footprints don’t overlap and that stations operate in the public interest.Ã‚Â I was listening to Jack FM over the weekend; and at the top of the hour, a voice rambled off about five sets of call letters and cities so its hardly a station that emphasizes “local programming.”Ã‚Â Its hard for me, a former newscaster, to see how Jack FM operates in the public interest when its an automated entity.
I think the Ed Schultz program (tape-delayed on KTLK at 7-10PM) is about as close as one can get to a radio program that tries to represent opposing viewpoints.Ã‚Â The show doesn’t screen calls and he lets righties explain themselves, uninterrupted for what seems like eternity in radio (imagine John and Ken not interrupted a guest who’s viewpoint they don’t agree with?).Ã‚Â Schultz’s show s progressive but the only people he seems somewhat disrespectful to at times are conservative talk show hosts.Ã‚Â And that’s not any different than what Rush Limbaugh does.
So does this mean some left-leaning programs on radio and TV should air a conservative point of view.Ã‚Â Yes it does.Ã‚Â And the more information we as Americans canÃ‚Â be exposed to and the more points of view we can learn from, the greater our opportunities to work together in a bi-partisan fashion to solve the serious problems our nation faces.
So of you want straight partisan media, its easy to find in plenty of forms not regulated by the government.Ã‚Â But when it comes to the public airwaves, the Fairness Doctrine should be returned to allow left and right points of view to be heard in the context of the same network.