Schumer Comments Prompt New Fairness Doctrine Concerns
National Religious Broadcasters say his comments "foreshadowed an intolerance of ideas"
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 11/5/2008 10:01:00 AM
Comments by New York Democratic Senator Charles Schumer have provided new urgency to talk radio's and others' concerns about the reimposition of the fairness doctrine under a Democrat-controlled government.
While President-elect Barack Obama has told B&C twice through a top aide that he has no interest in bringing the doctrine back, the same apparently cannot be said for other powerful Democrats including Schumer. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has not ruled it out, either.
In an interview on Fox that was getting radio airplay Wednesday, Schumer said that the same people who say the FCC should be able to regulate "pornography" on the air don't want it to intervene to promote fairness and balance, calling that inconsistent. The doctrine, jettisoned by the FCC in 1987 as unconstitutional, required broadcasters to air both sides of controversial issues. Its demise let to the rise of opinionated, conservative talkers like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.
The National Religious Broadcasters, for one, was concerned enough about Schumer's comments to issue a press release Wednesday saying it "foreshadowed an intolerance of ideas."
NRB, which supports the FCC's indecency crackdown, took issue with Schumer linking the two.
“I was stunned by Senator Schumer’s suggestion that by keeping filth off the air, the federal government has somehow become empowered to take over the control of legitimate programming content of broadcasters," said Craig Parshall, senior VP and general counsel for NRB and author of its brief supporting the FCC on indecency enforcement. "That paints a very grim picture for the future of broadcasting freedoms, particularly for Christian broadcasters.
"We see nothing inconsistent about permitting the FCC to rid the airwaves of that kind of gratuitous indecency that Justice Scalia referred to in oral argument as having contributed to the ‘coarsening’ of America, but at the same time opposing, as NRB has, the return of the dreaded Fairness Doctrine. Free Speech should never be sacrificed on the altar of a false choice."
He said that neither the Supreme Court nor the Constitution makes censoring "politically incorrect" ideas the quid pro quo for being able to regulate "profanity and smut" on broadcast TV and radio.
so people should be FORCED to listen to differing opinions? That makes perfect sense.
Look, most people do listen to both sides and if they don't that is their business, not yours and not the governments.
Just as I have a particular music taste, I also have a particular talk radio and news taste.
Let's face it, liberal radio simply doesn't attract a large audience (in most markets) and because of that it is not good for the business of radio.
So through this so called fairness doctrine the government is going to tell successful radio stations that they must also air material that they know their audience does not want to listen to.
I was in radio for a number of years (RF engineer, not on air or station manager) and I still take many of the industry periodicals, the fact is a majority of talk centered or talk only stations will completely change format.
#1. the listener ship will decline greatly and advertisers will decline shortly there after.
#2 the risk of fines is to great.
I'm sure the rapid and massive changing of format will please those pushing the the fairness doctrine.
The most important thing is that it is an infringement upon the right of free speech.
As for your following remark:
"Forcing our media outlets to present both sides of an argument (and yes I mean liberal AND conservative) will remind all of us that the other side has a point too and we should try to hear it. I we don't agree with it, at least respect it."
We all know there is an "other side" we all know they have a point they too are trying to make, but I sure don't have to respect it just as they don't have to respect my points.
For instance, I believe your support of the fairness doctrine is ignorant and I do not respect your point in anyway.
Keith W. Peterson - 11/6/2008 11:33:00 PM EST
Note to Adam Smith:
The fairness doctrine would administered by the FCC. The FCC doesn't regulate the Internet! It regulates radio and TV.
Fred - 11/6/2008 3:43:00 PM EST
For the record, the President-elect has said he would not bring back the fairness doctorine. However, I think it's maybe time to look at bringing it back. Why? First, keep in mind that even though the Internet is growing, radio and television still reach much more people. Second, we've reached a point in this country without the fairness doctrine that our mainstream media marketplace has become segmented. The "I won't listen to your radio station, I have my own" scenario. As a result, or society has become fragmented and we do not listen and talk to each other, we simply go to our own individual corners and yell. Forcing our media outlets to present both sides of an argument (and yes I mean liberal AND conservative) will remind all of us that the other side has a point too and we should try to hear it. I we don't agree with it, at least respect it.
Fred - 11/6/2008 3:40:00 PM EST
MEMO TO SCHMUMER: SHUT UP! Don't you realize that reimposition of the Fairness Doctrine would lead to calls to apply the doctrine to internet speech? Can you imagine all sites and blogs being required to give "equal time" to opposing viewpoints? The internet has provided a multiplicity of voices, a true marketplace of ideas in which anyone can successfully compete (who doesn't have their own blog these days?) Sen. Schumer, you represent everything that's wrong with naive liberals these days. If only you were as vocal about assaults on our civil liberties. With many media voices, the Fairness Doctrine is just what the public does NOT need. Want to advocate for liberal media outlets? Do a fund-raiser for Air America. And go worry about protecting our civil liberties, not stifling the competition of ideas.
Adam Smith - 11/5/2008 8:52:00 PM EST
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