‘Fairness Doctrine’ Is A Code Name For “Censorship”

Posted: Jun 26, 2007 2:04 PM
‘Fairness Doctrine’ Is A Code Name For “Censorship”

Leftist censors aren’t just dropping hints about their determination to legislate conservative talk radio out of existence. They are screaming their intentions, loud and clear.

In the wake of the pending final demise of bankrupt and scandal-plagued Air America, the Left continues to be frustrated by the fact that America simply isn’t tuning in to their propaganda. So, according to reports from various news outlets, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Steny Hoyer, Dennis Kucinich, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein are joining their friends at the far-left Center for American Progress to cook up a new plan: force radio stations to accept unwanted programming in the name of “fairness” and “balance.”

Speaker Pelosi has reportedly promised to “aggressively pursue” revival of the poorly-titled “Fairness Doctrine,” whose regulations would mandate that radio stations featuring the views of conservatives like Michael Medved, Hugh Hewitt, or Bill O’Reilly “balance” those views (in the name of diversity) with an “equal” dose of, say, Al Franken, Randi Rhodes, or Thom Hartmann – all proven failures in a free radio market.

As if that news wasn’t alarming enough, a report released by CAP last week added even more fuel to the fire, reminding conservatives just how far the left-wing will go to silence dissent.

The organization’s report, titled “The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio,” expresses a need to “close the gap” between conservative and Left-wing programming. It also advocates increasing “ownership diversity, both in terms of the race/ethnicity and gender of owners, as well as the number of independent local owners,” which in the Left’s view would lead to more “diverse” programs. So instead of capitalism, we get the Leftist cure-all: quotas.

In a free market, the listeners decide which radio programs live and which die. Forcing stations to operate not on the basis of ratings and ad revenue, but in an ideological and multi-cultural affirmative-action system that dictates “fairness,” is not only unconstitutional – it’s downright Soviet. It’s offensive to the economic marketplace; it’s suffocating to the vital marketplace of ideas.

But, of course, that persnickety First Amendment has never stopped the Left before. They’re more than happy to rewrite it and bully Americans into submission, if they can’t capture and sustain an audience the old-fashioned way.

When the Fairness Doctrine was first introduced in 1949, it required licensed broadcasters to devote equal time to both sides of a controversial issue, and mandated that stations air programming addressing issues of local interest. At a time when television was in its infancy, satellite radio a fantasy, and the Internet non-existent, such rules may have had some merit. But in today’s market, with hundreds of choices in programming, such regulations are irrelevant – and nearly impossible to enforce.

But the Fairness Doctrine is more than useless – it’s counterproductive. The FCC realized 20 years ago that the law actually discouraged, rather than encouraged, more free speech. Rather than try to gauge what legally constituted “equal time” for both sides of a political contest, station owners began just dropping politically-based programming altogether. That led to the FCC’s ending enforcement of the doctrine in 1987.

The fact is that the success of conservative talk radio is a direct response to the Left’s virtual 50-year stranglehold on American media through its domination of all the major network and cable television outlets … through public broadcasting stations such as PBS and NPR … and through virtually every major American newspaper. Conservatives are simply fed up with Left-wing bias, and their heartfelt embrace of talk radio is clear evidence of their outrage.

It’s time for the Left to cut the static: Behind the calls for “regulation” and “diversity” hides a posse of political bullies who realize that they cannot compete against the likes of Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh in a free market. The left-wing’s failure to capture anything beyond a tiny niche market isn’t the fault of the FCC, nor of the dormant Fairness Doctrine. The “blame” rests with radio listeners who came, listened, and chose to tune out of “Dead Air” America.