The Threat of Reimposition of the So-called

Paul Weyrich

12/6/2006 12:00:00 AM - 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In 1982, under the leadership of Chairman Richard E. Wiley, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repealed a major broadcasting restriction, the Fairness Doctrine.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.

Some of you may support some type of re-regulation upon the ground that it would rid the airwaves of raunchy material. The FCC took care of that problem by enacting far greater fines than ever in history so all stations which carry filth can be penalized. Further, the FCC ruled that if a network carried the show every affiliate must be fined. The fine was 30 times higher than the previous fines.

That was the reason that Howard Stern took himself off AM radio and on to satellite, which at this time is not regulated.

The higher fines are driving filth off of the airwaves. If you hear filth complain to the FCC. FCC likely will take care of it. The protection of children and sensitive people from raunchy radio is a wholly separate issue from the Fairness Doctrine.

Talk radio is our answer to THE NEW YORK TIMES and WASHINGTON POST. Without talk radio we have very little sway over the electorate. With it our experts are interviewed. Even the views of the talk show host are challenged. Some times they don't know the facts.

WMAL Radio in Washington, D.C. carries three syndicate programs with local hosts all morning. I never cease to be amazed at the intelligence and the ability to inform of the listeners of WMAL. They have to be among the best and most informative audiences in the country. So talk-show hosts who have it wrong get chapter and verse from listeners.

The point is all of this will be gone if certain legislators have their way. Members of Congress in both the House and the Senate want to re-regulate radio. They must be stopped. We intend to do everything in our power to do prevent re-regulation.

On a separate matter, both domestic liberals and the United Nations want to tax the Internet. Some also want control over so-called bloggers, those people who have an opinion and who express it. Yes, I know the downside to the Internet. But I also know that it is a powerful tool to get out information fast. Some of the best sites are Newsmax.com, which carries our commentaries, by the way. But the largest sites are those with a conservative viewpoint, such as Worldnetdaily.com. Attempts will be made to tax or otherwise interfere with the Internet. I can assure you that Free Congress will be in the forefront of the fight.

Every time liberals can't get what they want though persuasion or the free market they legislate. This is true of compulsory unionism. This is true of campus groups which operate from compulsory fees from students. Now that talk radio has failed, rather than try further they want to shut down their competition. This much I can promise you. They will not get by with it without the fight of their lives.