The advent of complete Democrat control in Washington, D.C. portends a possible return of the Fairness Doctrine, and in the coming weeks I will devote a series of posts on the potential re-imposition of this nasty bit of statism. My interest is to learn more about the issue, inform my readership of the same and prepare to write a feature commentary about efforts to revive this and other restrictions on media.
The Fairness Doctrine was a Federal Communications Commission regulation on licensed broadcasters requiring that an equal voice be given to both sides of any controversial issue. In place from 1949 to 1987, the rule stifled programming while pushing the limits of constitutionality. Leading Democrats on Capitol Hill have signaled that they favor a return of the regulation, while Republicans are generally opposed. Beyond philosophical reasons for support or opposition (belief in governmental control vs. belief in freedom from such) are purely political ones: the Fairness Doctrine would likely destroy talk radio, a lively, popularly-aimed conduit of conservative thought.
While still a senator, Barrack Obama‘s press secretary wrote that Mr. Obama did not support re-imposing the Fairness Doctrine but did support caps on media-ownership, among other things. Ownership restrictions could similarly suppress the dynamic forum that is talk radio, and this may be the strategy Democrats pursue to do so. In a public debate, Democrats would probably have a much easier time defending innocuous “media ownership rules” than a regulation like the Fairness Doctrine which could easily be as censorship and a violation of free speech rights.
As I track developments and continue to comment in the days ahead, please share your opinion and any suggested sources on this issues. Thanks!