Paul  Weyrich

In 1982, under the leadership of Chairman Richard E. Wiley, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repealed a major broadcasting restriction, the Fairness Doctrine. There were howls of protest from conservatives who did not understand the effect this action would have upon the broadcast industry.

Some even pleaded for the reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine. That is because prior to 1982 conservatives had had so little access to the media they wanted to use government to force stations to give them a few minutes to reply to a controversial issue.

What they didn't understand was that the FCC action paved the way for Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mike Reagan, Mark Levin, Janet Parshall and the host of other syndicated radio shows. In addition there are some 1,100 local conservative talk-show hosts. At the time AM radio was going down the drain. Stations were sold for a song. Some even went off the air. Why? Because no one under age 30 had even heard of AM radio. FM was the rage. The FCC action saved AM radio. In the process, controversial issues could be discussed without the need for the Fairness Doctrine. Liberals have tried to imitate what conservatives have done with radio. First, they tried various programs. They all failed. Then with Air America they were going to try to put a network together. In case you haven't heard, it went belly up. Now they are trying again. Likely they will fail. Why? Because of the hopelessness of their message. A third of self-professed liberals listen to conservative talk radio. Why ? Because we offer hope.

I say we because the Free Congress Foundation has an hour show each Friday on Rightalk Radio ( http://www.rightalk.com ) at 1:00 PM EST.

Now that Democrats will have majorities in both Houses of Congress they want to attempt to re-instate the Fairness Doctrine, which would effectively shut down conservative talk radio. How do I know? Because liberals in Congress have said so.

Under the law regulatory agencies such as the FCC have a majority and minority status depending on which President is in power. The Free Congress Foundation has decided to make the preservation of talk radio a major effort. First, we want to be sure if President George W. Bush is able to nominate any potential FCC Commissioner that the nominee would oppose reinstitution of the Fairness Doctrine, whether he nominated a Democrat or a Republican. Next we want to secure commitments from Senators that they will filibuster any nominee put up by a subsequent Democratic occupant of the White House who seeks to re-impose the Fairness Doctrine or its equivalent. We want to press for legislation which would outlaw re-imposition of the Fairness Doctrine.


Paul Weyrich

Paul M. Weyrich is the late Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation.
 
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