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The Return of the Fairness Doctrine? 732

Posted by kdawson
from the no-fair dept.
Slithe writes "Last week at the National Conference for Media Reform, Ohio congressman Dennis Kucinich (a long-shot candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination) stated that the Fairness Doctrine may be reinstated. Kucinich will be heading up a new House subcommittee that will focus on issues around the FCC. The Fairness Doctrine was an FCC regulation that required broadcast media to present controversial issues in an honest, equal, and balanced manner. The FCC repealed it in 1987 — Democrats at the time tried to forestall this move but were ultimately thwarted by a veto by President Ronald Reagan. Critics of the Fairness Doctrine have stated that it was only used to intimidate and silence political opposition. At the convention, Kucinich said, 'We know the media has become the servant of a very narrow corporate agenda. We are now in a position to move a progressive agenda to where it is visible.'" In the interest of fairness, here is a Republican, free-market perspective on the return of the Fairness Doctrine.
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The Return of the Fairness Doctrine?

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  • flamewar comin' (Score:5, Insightful)

    by udderly (890305) * on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:34PM (#17633498)

    I was going to sit out this flamewar, but I just have to get involved.

    Despite quite a bit of disagreement with him, I have a fair amount of respect for Kucinich, if for no other reason than he at least *seems* to be consistent in what he says and does. And like him, I am worried that the media is now in the hands of so few people, but who would police this "fairness?

    <sarcasm>Surely politicians are bought and sold by corporate interests. Surely we can trust committees of appointees to handle things in a "present controversial issues in an honest, equal, and balanced manner."</sarcasm>

    It seems like everyone in the political scene thinks that there is a media bias one way or another, and, for all I know, there probably is but I don't see it being made better by putting the politicians in charge of it.

    • by OECD (639690) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:54PM (#17633908) Journal
      And like him, I am worried that the media is now in the hands of so few people, but who would police this "fairness?

      Who will watch the watchers of what the watchers watch?

      • Re:flamewar comin' (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Viper Daimao (911947) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @03:41PM (#17634910) Journal
        The meeting was heavily funded by George Soros [aim.org] and had quite an array of the "Who's Who" of the extreme left:
        Reaching new levels of hysteria, Rep. Maurice Hinchey said the survival of America was itself at stake because "neo-fascist" and "neo-con" talk-show hosts led by Rush Limbaugh had facilitated the "illegal" war in Iraq and were complicit in President Bush's repeated violations of the Constitution, such as by detaining terrorists. He warned that the "right-wing oriented media" were now preparing the way for Bush to wage war on Iran and Syria.

        His answer, a bill titled the "Media Ownership Reform Act," would reinstate the federal fairness doctrine and authorize bureaucrats at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to monitor and alter the content of radio and television programs.

        Hinchey, chairman of the "Future of American Media Caucus" in the House, was introduced as the new chairman of a subcommittee with jurisdiction over the FCC. For Hinchey and the vast majority at the conference, there was a pressing need for more, not less, regulation of what they call the "corporate media."

        Got that? He wants the Governtment "to monitor and alter the content of radio and television programs.". Remember, this is the same govt that will at any given time be led by the political party you are against. Do you want republicans to have this power to alter radio and tv science content? Do you want democrats to have this power to alter radio and tv economic content?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by h2_plus_O (976551)

          He wants the Governtment "to monitor and alter the content of radio and television programs.". Remember, this is the same govt that will at any given time be led by the political party you are against. Do you want republicans to have this power to alter radio and tv science content? Do you want democrats to have this power to alter radio and tv economic content?

          Dear merciful God, no.
          Very good insight, and a strong argument against expanding the role, scope, and power of government in this way- because to

    • Will the media be required to provide "balanced" coverage on evolution vs. creationism?
      Will the media be required to provide "balanced" coverage on climatologists vs. global warming deniers?
      Will the media be required to provide "balanced" coverage on the "Moon hoax" or Cydonia?
      What about Timecube?
      The JFK assassination?

      I have no idea how this could be implemented and not have it backfire.

      • That's hitting the nail on the head. Who determines what constitutes a controversy and what doesn't? A law like this concentrates a fantastic amount of power in the hands of government to dub one issue "controversial" (and therefore say that any kook needs his fair share of air time) and another issue "non-controversial" (and therefore no protection granted to a minority opinion, no matter how reasonable).

        I've had enough of "fair and balanced" coverage, thank you.

        -stormin

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by fireboy1919 (257783)
          Who determines what constitutes a controversy and what doesn't? A law like this concentrates a fantastic amount of power in the hands of government to dub one issue "controversial"

          So the problem is that the metric isn't well defined. Getting rid of the bill does, of course, solve this problem, but it remains that the majority voice isn't heard.

          How about we make it simple? Petition enough people and you get to talk.

          Why isn't there a real pastafarian controversy? Because not enough people are serious about
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by tsotha (720379)
            What are you talking about? You can hear the majority view in every market, even if you don't count satellite. What issue isn't getting the majority view? I'm suspecting you're conflating your own view with that of the majority.
        • by dangitman (862676) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @05:12PM (#17636702)

          Who determines what constitutes a controversy and what doesn't?

          I do.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by bataras (169548)
          "controversy" or not. I LOVE the personal attack rule:

          wikiped

          The "personal attack" rule was pertinent whenever a person or small group was subject to a character attack during a broadcast. Stations had to notify such persons or groups within a week of the attack, send them transcripts of what was said, and offer the opportunity to respond on the air.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dread_ed (260158)
        Bingo.

        The problem is that this law would be a flaming sword in the hands of virtually anyone that wants to pick it up. Combine increasingly partisan and divisive media with itchy-trigger-finger lawsuits and you start to see what kind of mess could occur.

        Imagine if every time someone opened their mouth on a media outlet they were subject to threats, lawsuits, fines, etc. Stray one inch into foul territory, or better yet, report truth that ois politically damaging or offensive and watch your career go bye-b
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by dangitman (862676)

        What about Timecube?

        What about the Timecube? The Timecube is humanity's future, and your denial of it demonstrates that you are ACADEMICALLY RETARDED and subject to the whims of JESUS HOMOSEXUALITY under the influence of the WORLD BANK.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by meta-monkey (321000)
        Fair and balanced! Wow, I love how you phrased that.

        climatologists vs. global warming deniers?


        There's no such thing as a "global warming denier." There are only deniers of anthropogenic global warming. And they're climatologists, too!
    • by slughead (592713)
      I am worried that the media is now in the hands of so few people, but who would police this "fairness?

      No kidding. I hear news organizations say all the time "We're fair, we present BOTH sides"..

      As a Libertarian, I say there's almost always more than 2 sides to an issue.

      Take Gay marriage (which probably put Bush in office the 2nd time). Some are in favor, some are against, and others say that the government shouldn't be issuing marriage licenses in the first place. I never ONCE heard the latter point of vie
    • Re:flamewar comin' (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Total_Wimp (564548) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @03:11PM (#17634250)
      Even worse, forcing "fairness" often gives misguided, scientifically wrong viewpoints the size and weight of thoughtful, well researched viewpoints. It is, in fact, the exact kind of argument that intelligent design proponents and global warming skeptics have recently been using. They say there must be a "balanced" view presented on "controversial" issues, thus we need to give their quackery equal footing with science.

      Although it's often harder to tell which the bad side is, purely political viewpoints can be just as factual on one side and bunk on the other. Yet with "fairness," the bunk will be elevated to the same level as the sound. For example, politics is full of economic viewpoints that are either factually incorrect, or basically just guesses. As soon as someone has one of these brilliant thoughts, now we have to give him equal billing to spread his nonsense?

      I hate Fox news. I've rarely seen such a wretched hive of scum and villainy outside of the Rush Limbaugh show. They elevate bad ideas and squash clear thinking on a regular basis. Politics takes the place of science and dogma takes the place of thought. Yet I'd rather have them, and Brother Rush, even expand their broadcasts than to force thoughtful networks with good fact-checking to distribute ill-conceived, factually incorrect bullshit out of "fairness."

      TW
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jadavis (473492)
        Yet I'd rather have them, and Brother Rush, even expand their broadcasts than to force thoughtful networks with good fact-checking to distribute ill-conceived, factually incorrect bullshit out of "fairness."

        Agreed! However, I'd like to add two points:

        (1) Having two perspectives, neither of which is restricted by government, is valuable. I have changed my mind before based on hearing ideas from sources I wouldn't expect to agree with about anything.

        (2) I think you could probably do without juxtaposing "I hat
  • "Liberal media" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rdwald (831442) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:36PM (#17633542)
    You'd think with their constant complaints about the liberal media, Republicans would be all in favor of a law requiring CNN et all to present their side fairly.
    • Choosing Sides (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Alaren (682568) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:49PM (#17633810)

      Right, but then Fox News blah blah blah...

      The sad fact is, deciding you don't like the Republicans and so voting Democrat (or vice versa) is a natural response because we're trained by the media, schools, and history to think those are the only options. Both parties are more than happy to strip you of your rights for your own good. Their only real debates are (1)which rights to strip and (2)how to go about it.

      Yeah, oversimplification, and one should never attribute to malice what can be accounted for by mere stupidity. "Balance" seems like a reasonable request (except where it works at cross-purposes with the first amendment), but the result will not be balance--it will be further entrenchment for the two powerful and officially sanctioned sides of any argument, and a death knell for every other perspective someone might have to offer.

      • by rdwald (831442)
        I never claimed that the media actually has a liberal bias, just that the Republicans claim it does. My personal opinion is that most news outlets do have a left-wing bias, but that Fox's claim to be "fair and balanced" is a running gag that American has fallen for. The only interesting question is whether CNN is as left as Fox is right.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Shuh (13578)

          I never claimed that the media actually has a liberal bias, just that the Republicans claim it does. My personal opinion is that most news outlets do have a left-wing bias, but that Fox's claim to be "fair and balanced" is a running gag that American has fallen for. The only interesting question is whether CNN is as left as Fox is right.

          Fox has a market, but it did not create that market. Their market are the people who feel they are not being served well by CNN. It's that simple. As far as "fair and ba

      • by feepness (543479)
        Yeah, oversimplification, and one should never attribute to malice what can be accounted for by mere stupidity. "Balance" seems like a reasonable request (except where it works at cross-purposes with the first amendment), but the result will not be balance--it will be further entrenchment for the two powerful and officially sanctioned sides of any argument, and a death knell for every other perspective someone might have to offer.

        Bingo.

        Rather than call it the "Fairness" doctrine, how about calling it
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Eskarel (565631)
        It's not training, it's a fundamental flaw in the voting process in the US. In most other western countries you have a system of run-off voting whereby third parties can transfer their votes to the primary party which they consider the least unpleasant, or where the voters can determine their order of preference themselves. This allows people to vote for a third party who they actually like(assuming you can find one you actually like) in large numbers without guaranteeing that the major party they despise w
    • by TubeSteak (669689)
      The cynical side of me wants to suggest that maybe Republicans don't want to represent the other side fairly.

      OTOH, this doesn't exactly strike me as the type of regulation I would support. From the Wikipedia link, I'd support the reinstatement of the "two corollary rules of the Doctrine, the "personal attack" rule and the "political editorial" rule"

      Those seem much less controversial to me, though a week is a very long time to not respond to a personal attack.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kilgortrout (674919)
      Back in the day, I believe they did just that. IIRC when the fairness doctrine first came out, the networks were scrambling trying to find some conservative spokesmen in order to satisfy the rule. I specifically remember one hilarious episode of All In The Family that had this as a plot premise where Archie was tabbed as a conservative spokesman by a local TV station. On his first show, Archie came out with his plan to end airline hijackings. Archie wanted to give every passenger a hand gun when they entere
    • Re:"Liberal media" (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Archangel Michael (180766) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:59PM (#17634014) Journal
      The problem isn't fairness, but who decides what is fair. The likes of most major news outlets think themselves fair, but are not. Who gets to decide what is, and what isn't fair.

      When Reuters pasted doctored photos and staged photographs during the recent Israeli incursion into Lebenon, how would the "fairness" doctrine be enacted. If it weren't for people like LGF and other bloggers who countered these biased lies and propaganda, what would have happened????

      Not to mention the "unbiased" Dan Rather and the forged documents by a political hack being reported as "fact". How would the "fairness" doctrine handle that? I suspect that Dan Rather would still be reporting from CBS news.

      I'm sure that there are equally egregious examples from "right wing" media, but since I can't actually point to any "right wing" media outlets, I'm stumped at actually describing one.

      So, who actually benifits from this "Fairness Doctrine", why the only people Truly interested in censorship, who gets to decide what is, and isn't fair? Don't agree? Too bad because you don't get a say.

      And how does one actually deal with the "new media", the internet and blogging? Does LGF have to hire a leftwing blogger in order to be "fair"?? How about MoveON.org? Do they have to hire right wing wackos?

      The only reason why people are looking for a "fairness doctrine" is because they cannot compete in the world of ideas (AirAmerica???); nobody really wants to listen to Al Franken.

      I always found it very interesting that it is the liberal, left wing people were the ones needing "fairness doctrine" to get their ideas out. I wonder though if the would allow a third viewpoint (Libertarianism), or if they would rather just keep it Al Franken vs Rush Bimbo.

      • When Reuters pasted doctored photos and staged photographs during the recent Israeli incursion into Lebenon, how would the "fairness" doctrine be enacted. If it weren't for people like LGF and other bloggers who countered these biased lies and propaganda, what would have happened????

        Not to mention the "unbiased" Dan Rather and the forged documents by a political hack being reported as "fact". How would the "fairness" doctrine handle that? I suspect that Dan Rather would still be reporting from CBS news.

        There's a reason those two stand out in your mind. They're unusual. Do you really think the blogosphere would have stayed quiet if there were a "balance" doctrine or are you just trolling? I hope for your sake it's the latter.

        I'm sure that there are equally egregious examples from "right wing" media, but since I can't actually point to any "right wing" media outlets, I'm stumped at actually describing one.

        It's equally hard for me to believe that you don't realize that Fox News is the quintessential "right wing" media. The reason there's no news about its mistakes is because they're not news - they're expected. Of the few episodes I've watched (because I was in someone else's house), I don't believe there wasn't a single one without an error more egregious than Dan Rather's. One lie even had one of the blonde ladies scratching her head. I guess she didn't get the memo that you're supposed to read the stories without questioning their veracity!

      • Re:"Liberal media" (Score:4, Informative)

        by sfjoe (470510) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @03:56PM (#17635262)
        I'm sure that there are equally egregious examples from "right wing" media, but since I can't actually point to any "right wing" media outlets, I'm stumped at actually describing one.

        Let me help you out:

        In February 2003, a Florida Court of Appeals unanimously agreed with an assertion by FOX News that there is no rule against distorting or falsifying the news in the United States.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          "In February 2003, a Florida Court of Appeals unanimously agreed with an assertion by FOX News that there is no rule against distorting or falsifying the news in the United States."

          You mean like falsifying federal documents (Dan Rather/CBS)?? You mean like making up stories about homeless people and reporting them as fact??? You mean like blowing up a truck to show how "unsafe" it was?

          Or how about paddling a canoe on a street to report on a flood, only to be shown that it was only 4" deep.

          The fact is, EVERY
    • Re:"Liberal media" (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheFlyingGoat (161967) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:59PM (#17634030) Homepage Journal
      As a Republican, I'm far more interested in keeping government as small as possible than requiring the FCC to try determining what is a balanced news report. People with a decent level of intelligence will realize that most media outlets aren't giving balanced news reports and should be smart enough to get their news from a variety of sources. That's for individuals to do themselves, though, not something that should be regulated by the government.

      Here's a little exercise for you: some Republicans fret over the media's use of "insurgents" for the bombers in Iraq. They want the media to call them terrorists, which IMHO is slightly more accurate, but nothing to get your panties in a bunch over. So, should the FCC step in and require news outlets to call them terrorists? Should they require Fox to call them insurgents too? Who decides if something is balanced? Where do you draw the line.

      Besides, with everyone complaining about the FCC being overly cautious after the Janet Jackson nipple incident, you'd think that everyone would realize that we don't want/need the FCC to try deciding things like this.
    • Re:"Liberal media" (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TopSpin (753) * on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @03:00PM (#17634042) Journal
      You'd think with their constant complaints about the liberal media, Republicans would be all in favor of a law requiring CNN et all to present their side fairly.

      Bzzt, wrong. Nice uninformed try, however.

      Repeal of the "fairness" doctrine basically made conservative talk radio. Limbaugh has been pointing this out for years. Prior to the repeal, AM was good for commodity price reports (cattle, wheat, etc.,) NPR and not much else. After, hundreds of radio shows ranging from psycho wackjob militia types to mainstream conservatives (yes, there are differences) appeared across the US.

      Clinton et al tried the same thing in the early 90's. The Right labeled it the 'Hush Rush' bill. It died on the vine after the '94 sweep of Congress. They're back I guess, and for the same reason.

      Legislating "fairness" in political discourse is bad. It doesn't matter which side is doing it, mkay? It's just wrong. If DeLay had tried to pull this you'd be apoplectic with hysteria about fascism. It isn't OK because it's coming from some left wing incumbent like Kucinich.

  • by Kelson (129150) * on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:36PM (#17633546) Homepage Journal
    Also in consideration is the "Fairness Doctrine," which required broadcasters to present controversial topics in a fair and honest manner.

    Now every story on global warming will need to be 1/3 saying it's happening and humans are at least partly responsible, 1/3 saying it's happening and it's 100% natural, and 1/3 saying it's not happening at all, and things like arctic melting [slashdot.org] are just a hoax manufactured for leftist propaganda.

    Meanwhile, any show on PBS or the Discovery Channel that deals with evolution in any way shape or form will have to cover not just the scientific consensus that natural selection has been at work for millions of years, but also Intelligent Design and young-Earth creationism. Similarly, anything about geology will have to include both the old-earth consensus and the idea that, for instance, the Grand Canyon was created during Noah's flood.

    Let's see if we can find Velikovsky [wikipedia.org] and von Daniken [wikipedia.org] a place while we're at it.

    And let's not get started with making sure the Viet Cong's point of view is presented with equal weight to both the hawk and dove sides of the American point of view....

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kelson (129150) *
      D'oh! First rule of ranting: check your sources. I wrote that based on the "equal and balanced" quote in the summary, then pasted in a quote from the actual article which said something slightly different.

      "Honest" helps in both cases -- but "fair" requires an arbiter, and we already know what this government considers to be "fair."
    • Exactly. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <`Satanicpuppy' `at' `gmail.com'> on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:45PM (#17633704) Journal
      Treating every issue as if it has two sides means that often you have to go out and invent a second side.

      This is why debates like global warming and evolution loom so large, because in the interests of "fairness" views that are held by very small minorities of people are given the same amount of play as views that are extensively proven and supported.

      Rather than this, I'd rather see a standard of truth applied to non-opinion mass media...Make them cite their numbers, and post the credentials of their "experts", and make them admit to errors of fact that appear on their broadcasts.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by dlockamy (597001)
      Have you not watched tv lately?
      Getting 1/3 of the discussion to be fact based would be an improvement.
    • by mrbooze (49713)
      Because history shows us that is exactly what happened back in the ancient history of 20 years ago when the Fairness Doctrine was in effect.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:39PM (#17633592)

    I agree that there serious problems with the way controversial issues are presented on the major television channels in the USA. I'm not convinced that the problem is fairness, per se. Instead, the problem seems more related to a tendency to present extremely complex issues in a simplistic binary manner (e.g. that the USA will either "succeed" or "fail" in Iraq).

    I am even less convinced that legislation can solve the problem. The only solution that I see is to let people who care about being informed move to other more complete sources of information such as the internet.

    The one thing that does bother me is the implicit racism in many of the entertainment shows on the major television channels. I wouldn't mind seeing a rule that the racial/ethnic/religious affiliations of the villians has to be chosen at random. Essentially, if it wouldn't be OK to portray Jewish people in a particular role then it shouldn't be OK to porttray any ethnic group in that role.

  • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:44PM (#17633692)
    The Republican free market viewpoint presented isn't - a free market approach would be to allow anyone who wanted to provide cable or television without requiring government approval; since that would result in chaos the governmnet licenses rights - once you agree to that you have a new partner - the government.
  • by digitalhermit (113459) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:46PM (#17633738) Homepage
    Requiring a "balanced" view can be just as bad as being completely one-sided. For example, say that there's an issue where 95% of the poll participants agree. In order to present a balanced view containing the opposing side, a new journalist may take the majority opinion and a minority opinion. When presented as opposing sides it may give the impression that people are evenly divided. This occurs quite often with scientific, religious and economic issues. It's not a case of intentional deception, but the effect can be the same.
  • Which is why democrats love it so much. The talk radio explosion came after the fairness doctrine ended. Before that if a radio station offered a right leaning talk show, they'd have to offer time to a left leaning one as well.

    The trouble is that left wing talk radio doesn't sell ads, because no one listens to it. So radio station operators had to chose between a few hours of right wing talk radio that was profitable, balanced by a few hours of left talk that wasn't, or just filling the airwaves with silly pop songs that generated decent revenue consistently.

    You don't have to believe me, you can go check for yourself the respective popularity & profitability of Air America vs Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Rielly, Mike Savage, etc.

    Left wing talk radio doesn't sell. So forcing radio stations to carry equal amounts of right wing and left wing radio makes them lose money, so they drop it altogether.

    Now like most internet forums, Slashdot is teeming with lefties. I imagine most of you will be fine with this cause talk radio is just a bunch of right-wing hate mongers, right? Eh? No harm in silencing that, huh?

    Unless, of course, you happen to think freedom of speech and property rights stands for something.

    The obvious counter is that the airwaves are public property, and you're right. You're also ignoring that the leftist point of view permeates most broadcast TV quite thoroughly (Yes, except for Fox). If you don't realize it, it's for the same reason fish don't realize they're wet.

    Truth is the elimination of the fairness doctrine made the airwaves more fair, because presenting a right wing point of view became profitable when you weren't burdened with the left wing. It wasn't be the first government policy that had the precise opposite of it's intended effect, and it won't be the last.

    If you support the return of the fairness doctrine after actually paying attention to the history of it, you might as well say "Free speech for me, but not for thee."
    • by StressGuy (472374) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @03:25PM (#17634530)
      It's "assholes with access to microphones" that sell. "Political Radio Shows" these days are to "intelligent discourse" as "Professional Wrestling" is to "Combative Sports". Rush Limbaugh was not popular because of his knowledge of political matters (which he may well have had), he was popular because he made controversial and obviously inflammatory statements on the air. Apparantly, he was better at it than Al Franken.

      For another example - intentionally taken from other than the "talk radio" arena to help emphasize my point, "Judge Judy" might be a well qualified judge...or, she might not. The reason she has a TV show, however, is because she's a "bitch on wheels".

      Contraversy, imflammatory statements, and being a general cynical asshole might make you popular to the lowest common denominator, but it doesn't make your point of view better or inherently more popular.
      • by Goldenhawk (242867) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @04:15PM (#17635656) Homepage
        >It's "a******* with access to microphones" that sell. "Political Radio Shows"
          >these days are to "intelligent discourse" as "Professional Wrestling" is to
          >"Combative Sports". Rush Limbaugh was not popular because of his knowledge of
          >political matters (which he may well have had), he was popular because he made
          >controversial and obviously inflammatory statements on the air. Apparantly, he
          >was better at it than Al Franken.

        I have been listening to Rush for about 10 years. I can tell you with a great deal of experience that people listen primarily BECAUSE they don't get his viewpoint on the mainstream media (MSM) that existed before he came around. Frankly, 3 to 20 million daily listeners (depending on who you believe) wouldn't stick around one person that long just for the hijinks. And it's those listeners who will be lobbying their congresscritters to kill this legislation.

        Contrary to your assertion, everyone that I know who ACTUALLY listens to Rush (and I personally know dozens) thinks that he makes high quality arguments that speak truth, and that the average MSM folks are blathering idiots who desparately need to be countered. Sure, we enjoy his hyperbole, and frankly it's refreshing to hear SOMEBODY tease the liberals mercilessly, but that's secondary to wanting to hear what we believe to be the truth.

        And before you go ranting about me and my friends being a bunch of hicks, let me point out that I live in a strongly blue state, with a middle to high income, flight test community of military pilots and scientists and engineers who uniformly have one or more college degrees, plus a fair mix of Walmart-shopping wage earners with high school diplomas. In short, it's not exactly average red state stuff.

        So get off your high horse about Rush. We conservatives (some of whom DO read /. despite appearances to the contrary on THIS thread) realize you think Rush is a flaming looney, and Fox News is a bunch of conservative nutjobs, and all creationists are idiots. But that's not any more a realistic assertion than the same assertions about liberals. Both sides are rational, thoughtful individuals with a different view of the same data. Get over it and stop insulting each other. Find a way to discuss the issues, not the flames.
  • Too bad this won't do a thing for cable news networks and documentary channels. Remember "broadcast" means free over the air, as in antenna; not cable coming into your house. Now, granted, the Democrats could likely change the wording this time around to include everything and most likely will. Oh well, just another kick in the nuts for free thinking society.
  • by Petrox (525639) <{ude.uyn} {ta} {205pp}> on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:48PM (#17633788) Homepage
    While the media has clearly been irresponsible in recent years and all-too accommodating for the abuses of power with which the country must now grapple, I tend to doubt that the reinstatement of the fairness doctrine would be either constitutional or even a good idea.

    The constitutionality of the 'fairness doctrine' was upheld by the Supreme Court in the case Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC (1969) on the basis that the FCC content-based regulation of broadcast television programming was appropriate in light of scarce broadcast resources and its mandate to act in the public interest for limited broadcast airwave frequencies. In other words, with only so many frequencies to dole out, it made sense at the time for the FCC to have some role in ensuring that a diverse array of viewpoints had access to broadcasting.

    In this day and age, where over-the-airwaves broadcast TV is mandated to be replaced by digital TV receivers (where interference and broadcast scarcity are much less of an issue) quite soon, and where cable, satellite, and the Internet have opened up innumerable avenues for mass and niche media and communication, the rationale for Red Lion just totally falls apart. This was essentially the rationale of the FCC in the 1980s when it did away with the fairness doctrine for precisely the reason that it felt it was no longer justified in light of the then-contemporary media environment (an environment that has only become more numerous and fragmented than it was then, and certainly compared to the days where all there was were the 'big three' networks).

    Plus, do we really want FCC bureaucrats editing TV programming for political content? That just seems like a system ripe for abuse.

    IANAL (though I very recently passed the bar exam and so I'm very close to being one...)

  • by calbanese (169547) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:49PM (#17633806) Homepage
    Anyone interested in the results of the Fairness Doctrine from the first time around should check this book out [amazon.com]. It was a bad idea then and a bad idea now.
  • by Dachannien (617929) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:49PM (#17633818)
    Fox News is not broadcast media.

    That is all.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    With different headlines????

  • Quote from TFA (Score:2, Insightful)

    by petehead (1041740)
    "FCC Commissioner Michael Copps was also on hand at the conference and took broadcasters to task for their current content, speaking of "too little news, too much baloney passed off as news. Too little quality entertainment, too many people eating bugs on reality TV. Too little local and regional music, too much brain-numbing national play-lists."

    Nice to see this from the FCC chair, but what can he do about it?
  • I'm no fan of the major news outlets but this sounds like foolishness if for no other reason than the fact that the concept of "what's fair" is entirely subjective, if not in theory then at least in practice. If we aren't getting the whole story from standard media outlets then there will always be a market for someone who will give us the rest of the story. Just because that someone might not be a 24 hour news network shouldn't be a reason to regulate what people can and can't say.

    Furthermore, a measure
  • How could this possibly be enforced? Does this mean all religious discussions must include scientology? And all National Geographic programs on the origin of the universe must talk about creationism? Or am I misunderstanding this?

    The Wikipedia article on Fairness Doctrine [wikipedia.org] is marked as being non-neutral. Ohhh the irony!!!

    From the Supreme Court ruling upholding this:

    "There is nothing in the First Amendment which prevents the Government from requiring a licensee to share his frequency with others.... It is

  • The Republican rebuttal argument:

    "To say that this is an antiquated concept in a time of several-hundred-channel cable TV, satellite TV, satellite radio, and of course our little Internet, is to state the obvious."

    Fails to acknowledge that not all communication media are created equal. Broadcast frequencies, which are easily received by inexpensive, common televisions and radios, are fundamentally different than satellite channels that are vended by select providers, which are in turn wholly differen
  • How do you deem something fair? Have a democrat and republican banter about? What about other parties, even the crazy ones?

    How do you even begin to enforce it? It's free speech, it doesn't have to be fair or even remotely factual.

    If you don't like how a radio or TV station is broadcasting its news, then you boycott it and convince others to do the same. It doesn't matter anyway, I think most people are realizing that getting the news online is quicker and easier than watching it on TV, and this law wouldn't
  • by pentapenguin (904715) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:56PM (#17633950) Homepage
    What ever happened to the First Amendment [wikipedia.org]?
    Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech
    What part of that is so hard to understand for modern politicians?
  • by cfulmer (3166) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:58PM (#17633988) Homepage Journal
    So, the Fairness Doctrine was rooted in the idea that if you're using the public airways, you needed to do so in a manner that benefited the public. It's the same basic idea that forced TV and radio stations to put on public interest shows that nobody watched. It's a bad idea for a number of reasons:

    (1) The public has already chosen what they like to listen to and watch -- the market can, and does, give people what they want.

    (2) This is really just a back-door attempt to squelch a format where liberals have been unsuccessfully trying to penetrate for years: talk radio. The idea is to FORCE radio stations to pick up the next "Air America" if they're going to continue to broadcast Rush Limbaugh. But, (going back to #1), if nobody listens, is there a benefit? To Liberals there is -- by forcing "fairness," a Radio station will have to silence about half of its conservative voices.

    (3) It's not like there's a paucity of available opinions -- the Internet has made it possible for every side to get its message out, with very little budget. Plus, things have changed since the days where CBS, NBC and ABC rules the TV airways. There are now hundreds of television stations.

    (4) What about the First Amendment? Sure, the fact that they're public airways means that they are subject to some restrictions, but do we really want to add more limits on speech?

    (5) Despite what Commissioner Copps said, it's not going to get rid of garbage TV (I'm thinking NBC's "Fear Factor" as a great example), because those shows don't espouse any political opinions.

    The Democrats are beginning the process of making sure they're not re-elected in 2 years. Did any candidate run on the Fairness Doctrine?

    Incidently, the differences between the Fairness Doctrine and Net Neutrality are: (1) one is content-based and one isn't and (2) Net-Neutrality regulates the information pipes, not the sources.
    • With the Fairness Doctrine, the party in control of the government was actually sitting there with stop watches making sure that "both sides were presented." While corporate consolidation has in theory limited voices, the reality is the explosion of media sources has eliminated that control.

      What would happen is that no radio station would ever introduce a political radio show (incumbent ones with huge audiences would likely stay and be counterbalanced with unprofitable "other side"), because if I want to t
  • Simple question. This is in effect a form of censorship. Unlike a lot of people on Slashdot I don't all forms of censorship are wrong but what else can you call it when the Government gets to say what is fair and balanced? I am sure that in China they have the exact same law on the books.
  • by Baldrson (78598) * on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @03:01PM (#17634070) Homepage Journal
    People keep targeting the wrong problems since they can't get to the root problem: Concentration of wealth.

    There is every reason to charge a use fee for property rights that would not exist in the absence of government and very little reason to tax domestic economic activities.

    The failure to tax the right thing results in an accumulation of wealth in the hands of those already wealthiest and this results in increased centralization of ownership of everything including the means of indoctrinating the populous.

    Moreover, as people increasingly recognize on both the right and left, it is important to avoid replacing centralization of wealth with centralization of political control. Tax revenues should be evenly dispersed to the citizens without any prejudice in a citizens dividend so they can enjoy the kind of yeoman class independence that created people like Newton and the Wright Brothers.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Citizens already have the ability to enact property taxes. Many states do this. Many choose not to. Its a voluntary system. Are you suggesting that the people cannot decide this one for themselves?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      psst free hint: populous, besides being a game, is a word meaning "populated" or "full of population". The populace is the collected population.

      Anyway you have a good point but I take issue with one part of it:

      Tax revenues should be evenly dispersed to the citizens without any prejudice in a citizens dividend so they can enjoy the kind of yeoman class independence that created people like Newton and the Wright Brothers.

      That wasn't needed by Newton or the Wright Brothers. Instead, we should simply

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by dangitman (862676)

      Support the Hutter Prize for Lossless Compression of Huma [hutter1.net]

      I think your .sig could do with a better compression method.

  • fair it ain't (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wmeyer (17620) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @03:30PM (#17634676)
    As with so many things created by the government, the name is opposite to its effect. The Fairness Doctrine is not fair at all, but essentially eliminates the opportunity for political editorialization, of whatever stripe. Instead, we must be presented with "balanced" opponents, who are often anything but balanced.

    As another comment said, conservatives now have Fox News and tal radio, while liberals have all of CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, and CNN. That the liberals could not mount a successful talk radio operation is a primary motivating force for returning the Fairness Doctrine.

    The effect of the Fairness Doctrine, overall, is antithetical to free speech, and in the presence of a rational court position, it should be found unconstitutional.
  • by Omnifarious (11933) * <eric-slash@omnif ... s.org minus city> on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @03:56PM (#17635268) Homepage Journal

    If the Democrats are really interested in media no longer representing narrow corporate interests they will instead support policies encouraging the democratization of media.

    • Stop treating spectrum as property and open up a range of spectrum that ordinary TV receivers can receive that is completely unregulated by the FCC at all.
    • Support net neutrality, or municipalities owning their own network infrastructure, or both.
    • Loosening copyright law so someone who's producing a documentary doesn't have to get a copyright holder's permission to show a poster that happens to be hanging in the dorm room of a student being interviewed.

    Any or all of these would do far more to encourage varied viewpoints in mainstream media than any kind of stupid mandate for 'fairness'. All that does is make sure both mainstream clubs get their say instead of random citizens with their many and varied viewpoints. There are generally far more than two sides to any issue.

    The Democrats aren't miffed about corporate centralized control of media, and any protestations to the contrary are shown to be complete hypocrisy by things like the fairness doctrine. They're only miffed that this centralized control has tended to exclude them.

  • Not at all (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Emperor Cezar (106515) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @04:55PM (#17636416) Journal
    Being in college radio, this will result for us in the situation that occurred the last time the "fairness" doctrine was in place. We just won't air anything controversial. It's much safer than trying to comply to it.

That does not compute.

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