Rep. Luján: Dissenting Voices Act to be Reintroduced

Said it is necessary amidst ongoing attacks on media
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Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) told broadcasters Tuesday that he will be reintroducing his Protecting Dissenting Viewpoints and Voices Act "in the coming weeks" given the continuing attacks on the media.

Rep. Ben Ray Lujan

The bill would prevent the FCC from revoking any license, denying a license transfer, or taking action against an individual for their viewpoints on issues of public importance.

The FCC used to put an affirmative obligation on broadcasters to air dissenting viewpoints on issues of public importance, the Fairness Doctrine. That doctrine no longer applies, though some Democrats once talked about reviving it as a way to counter Republican-backing conservative talk radio.

The bill would also prevent the President from directing an agency to retaliate over a broadcast viewpoint.

FCC chair Ajit Pai is on the record that the FCC won't not penalize a station over the character of its content, as it were, a statement necessitated by suggestions by President Trump that such licenses should be inspected following news stories critical of him, which he has characterized as part of a campaign by mainstream media to undercut his presidency with "fake news" and in league with his Democratic opponents.

A spokesperson for the chairman had no comment on the bill.

The legislation was initially introduced after President Trump threatened NBC licenses.

This week, Luján cited the "difficult political moment" where "every day, there seems to be yet another attack on the First Amendment and the freedom of the press," as reason for the bill's reintroduction.

"These attacks have included dangerous and unacceptable rhetoric aimed at news organizations, journalists, and television stations.... We can’t be intimidated. And together, we must fight back against those who threaten this sacred right," he told a broadcast audience at the National Association of Broadcasters Annual State Leadership Conference.