“In effect from 1949 to 1987, the Fairness Doctrine was an obstacle to open discussion of public policy issues on the radio; its removal in the Reagan years spawned the robust talk radio marketplace of ideas now enjoyed by millions.”–Media Research Center
The Fairness Doctrine forces radio stations to give equal time to both sides of an issue. While this sounds fair, it is actually anything but. As Chief Justice Warren Berger wrote in 1974: “Government-enforced right of access inescapably dampens the vigor and limits the variety of public debate.”
Now, however, it could be on its way back and this has many concerned about the future of the First Amendment.
“Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski recently appointed Mark Lloyd, a former senior fellow at the George Soros-funded Center for American Progress, to be the FCC’s chief diversity officer,” says Brad O’Leary, author of “Shut Up America: The End of Free Speech.” “Lloyd is a proponent of the Fairness Doctrine and recently wrote that the doctrine, and other regulatory tools such as localism and diversity mandates, should be employed by the FCC to limit the number of conservative voices on the air and supplant them with liberal voices. He also suggests fining conservative radio stations up to $250 million and giving the proceeds to the government-subsidized Corporation for Public Broadcasting.”–World Net Daily
What’s frustrating about the Fairness Doctrine is that, as NewsBusters points out, most of talk radio is Christian and/or conservative-driven. Lloyd apparently takes issue with this, wants to suggest ways the federal government can remedy this free-market-created “problem.”
Of course there are two sides to every story, which is probably why Fox News and talk radio have done so well. The American people want to hear both sides, and tune into Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity to get the perspective that is often lacking from major TV newscasters or newspapers. What’s frightening is that with a man like Lloyd in power and a law as innocent-sounding as the “Fairness Doctrine” such opposing voices could be silenced, simply because they cannot afford to pay the large fines required.
Especially these days, when the Obama administration is sending out mass emails to convince the citizens of the right course, differing opinions are essential to our freedoms as Americans. As Thomas Jefferson said, “any government which can not stand up to published criticism deserves to fall.”
Or better yet, from King Solomon: “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure.” (Proverbs 11:14) Let’s pray that our “many advisors”–talk radio hosts, bloggers, newscasters, journalists–continue to have freedom to speak freely and keep this nation from falling.