Fighting to Defend the First Amendment

Tom Price

10/17/2007 2:28:00 PM - Tom Price

Two precious rights – free speech and a free press – face a serious threat today in Washington as Congressional Democrats have expressed their desire for a return of the archaic “Fairness Doctrine.” This outdated and misleadingly named mandate requires broadcasters to provide equal time for “contrasting points of view.” But after nearly 40 years of trial, the FCC discontinued the doctrine in 1987 as it proved to actually stifle public debate.

The reality of this debate is that some in Congress think that conservative talk radio works in opposition to their political beliefs. They believe that Republicans have an unfair advantage on talk radio. It is true that talk radio is popular among conservatives, but this is not due to any unfairness in our system. The only barrier to a prosperous left-leaning talk radio industry is a willing audience.

In the end, this is another example of Washington’s control over the will of free people, another case of the government forcing the market’s hand in pursuit of political goals. If ambiguous “fairness” is forced upon American consumers, the right of freedom of speech that we cherish would be dealt yet another blow from Washington politicians. Real freedom means a government that listens to its people – not one that tells its people what to listen to.

Today, Congressman Mike Pence makes available to the House of Representatives a discharge petition that would force a vote on the Broadcaster Freedom Act, a bill to prohibit the enforcement of the “Fairness Doctrine.” The petition requires the signature of 218 members of the House to bring the bill to the floor for a vote. I encourage all those who cherish our freedom of expression to contact their Representative, and ask that they put their name on this important petition to ensure broadcaster freedom