On January 19, 2006, Salem Communication's Chairman of the Board, Stuart Epperson presented testimony to the Senate Commerce committee on the FCC's involvement in regulating decency. It is as relevant today as it was then
On behalf of Salem Communications Corporation, I want to thank Chairman Stevens, Inouye, and the other Members of the Committee for conducting this hearing on the very important issue of Decency in the broadcast and cable industries.
My partner Ed Atsinger and I founded Salem Communications Corporation, which owns and operates commercial radio stations in virtually all the major markets in this country. Salem owns and operates over 100 radio stations, with a strong presence in 24 of the nation’s top 25 markets. These stations provide Christian teaching and talk, contemporary Christian music, conservative news talk, and other formats to millions of listeners each week. The Salem Radio Network syndicates over 150 hours of daily original programming to nearly 1,900 affiliated radio stations in over 200 markets nationwide.
We are in this business primarily because we have a point of view. Moreover, we think our views are well received in the marketplace of ideas. Our editorials emphasize limited government, free enterprise, a strong national defense and traditional moral values. These principles are also, in general, the views of our talk show hosts. We have both local hosts and nationally syndicated hosts. Indeed we syndicate far beyond the reach of the stations we own.
Not only are we conservative in our politics but we also operate within the Judeo-Christian moral framework as did our founding fathers. Given that background, you might assume that we favor legislation now pending in Congress to heighten penalties for violation of content regulations applicable to over-the-air radio and television stations. Not on your life!
Today, we enjoy almost unprecedented freedom in religious broadcasting and public policy discussions that the First Amendment was designed to promote largely because of one historic act in 1987: the FCC repealed the so-called Fairness Doctrine, which had imposed government control of content. (The Fairness Doctrine was quickly dubbed the “Blandness Doctrine” because it resulted in timid, don’t-rock-the-boat broadcasting.) Thankfully, repeated attempts by Congress to disinter the Fairness Doctrine have failed.