Rich Galen

In the way of Washington, the FCC later determined that it was not enough to afford reasonable opportunities for such discussions, but the stations had an obligation to "actively seek out issues of importance to their community and air programming that addressed those issues."

This was not a law but a regulation of the FCC. Came the Reagan era and deregulation was all the rage. On of the regulations which was dee'd was the Fairness Doctrine.

Twice Democrat-controlled Congress tried to pass a law re-establishing the Fairness Doctrine, twice it was vetoed - once by President Reagan and once by President George H.W. Bush.

The realities of broadcasting are: The market tends to work. If a local radio station thinks it will get better ratings (more people listening, hence higher ad rates, hence more income) by airing Rush Limbaugh, then will rush Rush to air.

If it thinks it will make its numbers by airing Air America, then it is free to do that.

The Fairness Doctrine would, in effect, require a station airing Limbaugh to air a Liberal talk show for the same amount of time. There is no requirement on the listeners to hang around, however, so it is likely that higher ad rates will be paid for Limbaugh than for Ben Mankiewicz on Air America.



It is true that there are a finite number of broadcast licenses. It is also true that with 1,873 cable channels on TV and XM/Sirius satellite radio there is no shortage of choices for Americans who want to watch or listen to news or what passes for news.

It is also true that there are a finite number of hours in the day and forcing Americans to listen to or watch programming in which they have no interest - because people in Congress think they know what's best - is what's worst.

Since the end of the Fairness Doctrine Democrats have controlled the House of Representatives for about 15 years, Republicans for 12. The Senate is even closer.

Sounds pretty fair to me.

Once again, the Congress thinks it has a solution and is looking for a problem to fit it.

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