Boucher: No Plans To Reinstate The Fairness Doctrine

Reassured broadcasters at the NAB State Leadership Conference

Posted at 3:00 p.m. ET

Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) said Tuesday that his subcommittee isn't looking to enforce fairness on the medium.

Boucher, chairman of the House Communications, Technology & Internet Subcommittee, was looking to reassure a roomful of broadcasters who have likely heard a lot on that subject in the last few months. "Let me tell you this morning that our subcommittee has no plans to reinstate the fairness doctrine," he said in a speech to a National Association of Broadcasters State Leadership Conference in Washington Tuesday.

The assurance was greeted with applause.

There continues to be some concern that congressional Democrats might try to stifle conservative talk radio critics by codifying the doctrine, which the FCC scrapped in 1987. The fairness doctrine required broadcasters to seek out opposing viewpoints on issues of public importance.

Arguably the highest profile Democrat--President Barack Obama--has said several times he does not support its reimposition, and the Senate last month voted to prevent the FCC from reinstating the doctrine.

But there are still lingering concerns that the government could adopt a sort of fairness-lite regime via some FCC localism proposals, which have yet to be voted on, that would include creating community programming advisory boards or more detailed reporting requirements for public interest programming.