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The Fairness Doctrine By Another Name February 18, 2009

Posted by vsap in Blogroll, Uncategorized, US Politics.
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The Wikipedia definition of “The Fairness Doctrine” gives a brief overview:

“The Fairness Doctrine was a policy of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that required the holders of broadcast licenses both to present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was (in the Commission’s view) honest, equitable and balanced.

The Fairness Doctrine should not be confused with the Equal Time rule. The Fairness Doctrine deals with matters of public importance, while the Equal Time rule deals only with political candidates.

The United States Supreme Court upheld the Commission’s general right to enforce the Fairness Doctrine where channels were limited, but the courts have not, in general, ruled that the FCC is obliged to do soIn 1987, the FCC abolished the Fairness Doctrine, prompting some to urge its reintroduction through either Commission policy or Congressional legislation.”

In August of last year, a Rasmussen Reports survey showed that 47% of likely voters in the presidential election supported government-imposed political balance on radio stations. The new survey shows only 38% support the idea. So, while it may appear unlikely that the Fairness Doctrine will be re-introduced in congress, especially by liberals who want to silence conservative talk radio, be careful to watch out for the same doctrine on steroids cast in another name: localization.

Localization is a different means to the same end. In short, the federal government will use its power to license to threaten local radio stations into compliance with whatever definition of “fair” they choose.  The Feds will create local boards that will review a radio station’s content. For example, if they set a standard that a local radio station must carry at least 50% locally-produced content or face the prospect of not having their license renewed, the station owner is faced with doing what it can to protect its license instead of gathering an abundance of listeners and advertising revenue that generally follows.

In the present era, most radio stations have upwards of 70% of their broadcast time allocated to network or syndicated programming. It’s less expensive and generates more revenue than local programming could ever accrue. This choice is left to the local stations based on market desires. Think of how often radio stations change music formats. This reflects the unique tastes of a specific market at a specific period of time. By contrast, many station owners have found consistent, long term revenue by going the conservative talk route. That route is populated by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Neal Boortz, among others. These are not the people liberals like to see dominating the air waves.

What we know about liberals is that they are not concerned about free speech, they are concerned about having their speech listened to and followed. After all, they know best and you’re out there living beyond the Beltway or , worse, outside the original13 colonies, so you are near savages and simply don’t know any better. You can’t be trusted to choose what you listen to so they must intervene on your behalf to protect you from yourself.

Liberal talk radio doesn’t cause a tick on the VU meter in 95% of the markets where it’s even present. Liberal politicians, like Henry Waxman (D-CA), want the government to intervene in the free market to correct this aggregus imbalance. He’s smart enough to know he can’t call it the Fairness Doctrine so he figures if he can give it another name and another slant it can get passed without much notice.

Redirecting the “argument”, not taking it head-on since people would then recognize it for what it is, is an ageless strategy. It is put to us directly in the book  “My Utmost For His Highest”:

“Satan does not tempt us just to make us do wrong things— he tempts us to make us lose what God has put into us through regeneration, namely, the possibility of being of value to God. He does not come to us on the premise of tempting us to sin, but on the premise of shifting our point of view, and only the Spirit of God can detect this as a temptation of the devil.” – Oswald Chambers

Finally, consider the snowball effect of a localization doctrine on other formats like music and sports. In its extreme form it could cause ESPN and Fox Sports Radio to reduce its syndicated programming in a market forcing a local station to hire local sports talk personnel or pulling the plug on the format. Or, what about the syndicated country, oldies or “new hits” formats that populate the airwaves today? Require either sports or music format radio stations to comply spells disaster for terrestrial radio as we know it. People would be driven to internet or satellite radio to listen to what they want…until the government figured out how to rope them in.

In short, if liberals wish for “fair” they must be very careful what they wish for.

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1. Topics about Music » The Fairness Doctrine By Another Name - February 18, 2009

[…] Poet at the edge placed an interesting blog post on The Fairness Doctrine By Another NameHere’s a brief overviewThe Wikipedia definition of “The Fairness Doctrine” gives a brief overview: “The Fairness Doctrine was a policy of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that required the holders of broadcast licenses both to present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was (in the Commission’s view) honest, equitable and balanced. The Fairness Doctrine should not be confused with the Equal Time rule. The Fairness Doctrine deals with mat […]


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