Rich Galen

Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Ca) said on Sunday that she thought it would be a good idea if the Congress would pass a law bringing back what used to be known as "The Fairness Doctrine."

It is a perfectly horrid idea.

Dear Mr. Mullings:

"Perfectly horrid?" What, did you recently watch The Princess Bride or something?

Signed,
The National Association of Thursday Night Bowling Leagues

Ok. Not "perfectly horrid." How about …

That's an idea that stinks out loud.

Not perfect, but better. Much better.

On Fox News Sunday this past weekend, Feinstein, according to Broadcasting & Cable Magazine said that "talk radio is one-sided and 'explosive.' She said it 'pushes people, I think, to extreme views without a lot of information.'"

Which sounds much like she's describing the Senate Floor debate on the immigration bill, but maybe that's just me.

The basic law covering the use of radio waves in the United States - including everything from radar to your local disc jockey - is built on the Communications Acts of 1934 and 1937 which, in turn, were based on the Radio Act of 1927.

Part of those laws included Section 315 which provided for equal time - or more precisely - equal opportunity for all legally qualified candidates for public office.

This was back in the time when newspapers were openly partisan. It was not at all unusual to have one newspaper in Upper Iguana named the UI Democrat; and another named the Republican Iguanian. And they really were partisan.

Because there are a finite number of licenses available for AM, FM and Television broadcasting it was decided that if a radio station made time available for sale to candidate A in the race for City Council, it had to make the same amount of time available at the same rates to Candidate B.

If Candidate B was underfunded, there was no requirement that the station give him time to match what Candidate A bought; merely that Candidate B have the same opportunity.

According to the Museum of Broadcast Communications:

The Federal Communications Commission took the view, in 1949, that station licensees were "public trustees," and as such had an obligation to afford reasonable opportunity for discussion of contrasting points of view on controversial issues of public importance.


Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at Mullings.com.