U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, (R-Tenn.) has signed on as a cosponsor of bill that would prohibit the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from reinstituting the Fairness Doctrine requiring the government to monitor and regulate political views on the airways.
“It’s ridiculous to suggest that there should be a Federal rule requiring broadcasters to present contrasting points of view on controversial issues,” said Alexander. “We have plenty viewpoints in the media – including television, newspapers, and the Internet – and the Democrats should stop trying to silence talk radio. I will keep fighting to ensure our free speech is protected.”
In 1949, the FCC established the Fairness Doctrine requiring broadcasters to provide fair and balanced public affairs related programming. In 1985, the FCC determined that the Fairness Doctrine was no longer necessary due to the emergence of a “multiplicity of voices in the marketplace,” and that it also might be in violation of First Amendment rights.
In 1987, the FCC formally abolished the Fairness Doctrine following a federal court’s ruling that the FCC was not statutorily bound to enforce it. That same year, President Reagan vetoed legislation that sought to reimpose the Fairness Doctrine, and his veto was not overridden. Recently, several prominent Democrats have been discussing the possibility of bringing back the Fairness Doctrine through new legislation.
The bill cosponsored by Alexander – S. 1748, the Broadcaster Freedom Act of 2007 – has been referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. On June 28th, the House of Representatives voted 309-115 to approve an amendment to an appropriations bill that would bar the FCC from imposing the Fairness Doctrine on broadcasters.