Congress is just 23 signatures away from a vote that could finally end the archaic Fairness Doctrine and create a permanent free-market system for talk radio.
Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) continues to urge congress members to sign the Broadcaster Freedom Act discharge petition. The petition will “prevent the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from repromulgating the fairness doctrine,” originally initiated in the 1930s under Franklin Roosevelt.
During its glory days, the Fairness Doctrine was never applied to ensure conservatives’ air time. In fact, conservative voices were shunned while liberal bias seemed to mysteriously remain under the radar of the FCC. The Fairness Doctrine’s attempt at “fairness” created the most imbalanced media atmosphere possible. Or, some journalists simply avoided any coverage of controversial issues in order to avoid the nuisance of finding contrasting viewpoints on every issue raised in a story.
This biased radio and television coverage thrived until former President Reagan removed the doctrine in the 80s. Conservative talk radio – which had been an oddity – quickly became a commercial success.
"This type of content-based regulation by the federal government is, in my judgment, antagonistic to the freedom of expression guaranteed" by the Constitution, Reagan said in his veto message of legislation that could have continued the Fairness Doctrine.
Rep. Pence’s bill could kick the Fairness Doctrine to the curb permanently, much to the disdain of Democrats like Sen. John Kerry, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“I think the Fairness Doctrine ought to be there and I also think equal time doctrine ought to come back. I mean these are the people who wiped out one of the most profound changes in the balance of the media is when the conservatives got rid of the equal time requirements,” said Sen. Kerry. “And the result is that, you know, they’ve been able to squeeze down and squeeze out opinion of opposing views and I think it’s been an important transition in the imbalance of our public…
First, [Democrats] failed on the radio airwaves with Air America, no one wanted to listen,” says a senior adviser to Pelosi. “Conservative radio is a huge threat and political advantage for Republicans and we have had to find a way to limit it.”
The 195 Congress members who have already signed the discharge petition refuse to let this happen. The bill needs 218 signatures for the legislation to get a vote. To date, not one Democrat has broken with Pelosi to support the bill. Nine Republican representatives have also failed to sign the discharge petition.
“If the Broadcaster Freedom Act is brought to the floor of the House of Representatives, I have every confidence that it will pass because, when freedom gets an up-or-down vote in the People’s House, freedom always wins,” said Rep. Pence.
Check this list to see if your congressman is one of the 213 Democrats or 9 Republicans who have not signed the Broadcaster Freedom Act. If so, contact numbers are listed to get in touch with your state’s representative. Let them know that you support a free-market system in broadcasting.