Friday, August 11, 2006

The Fairness-Doctrine: Time to Bring-it-Back

What a hoot: with the possibility that the GOP will be washed-out of Congress in the Fall of 2006, Republican-blogs, sites and think-tanks are pushing the notion of a conspiracy to silence their pundits with the return of the "Fairness Doctrine" at the FCC. Yeah, what a horrible-thing, they'll have to put opposing-views on their shows FOR REAL, how anti-democratic. In an undated City-Journal tirade, Brian C. Anderson likens a return of the Fairness Doctrine as..."the most sustained attack on free political speech in the United States since the 1798 Alien and Sedition Acts. Though Republicans have the most to lose in the short-run, all Americans who care about our most fundamental rights and the civic health of our democracy need to understand what’s going on—and resist it." Oh sure, I'll take your word.

Yes Bry, democracy is in wonderful-shape since the GOP's control of Congress since 1994, and all-branches of government since 2000, great-shape. Telecom companies monopolize nearly all major-media outlets, and they even allow the Executive to spy-on Americans illegally. Still clinging-to the myth that there is such-a-thing as a liberal-media monopoly, he claims the right has only had a voice since 1987, when the Reagan administration eliminated the Fairness Doctrine as part of the FCC's mandate. Congress attempted twice to make the Fairness Doctrine a law in 1988, then 1993, unsuccessfully. Anderson--like many of his colleagues on-the-right--inaccurately writes that the Fairness Doctrine began around "1929", when it really began with the Radio Act of 1927, and the Communications Act of 1934. What was the Fairness Doctrine you ask? Here's the ACTUAL SECTION of The 1934 Communications Act that created the Fairness Doctrine as a mandate of the FCC, it's pretty-explicit about censorship:

§ 315. Candidates for public office

(a) Equal opportunities requirement; censorship prohibition; allowance of station use; news appearances exception; public interest; public issues discussion opportunities If any licensee shall permit any person who is a legally qualified candidate for any public office to use a broadcasting station, he shall afford equal opportunities to all other such candidates for that office in the use of such broadcasting station: Provided, That such licensee shall have no power of censorship over the material broadcast under the provisions of this section. No obligation is imposed under this subsection upon any licensee to allow the use of its station by any such candidate. Appearance by a legally qualified candidate on any -
(1) bona fide newscast,
(2) bona fide news interview,
(3) bona fide news documentary (if the appearance of the candidate is incidental to the presentation of the subject or subjects covered by the news documentary), or
(4) on-the-spot coverage of bona fide news events (including but not limited to political conventions and activities incidental thereto), shall not be deemed to be use of a broadcasting station within the meaning of this subsection. Nothing in the foregoing sentence shall be construed as relieving broadcasters, in connection with the presentation of newscasts, news interviews, news documentaries, and on-the-spot coverage of news events, from the obligation imposed upon them under this chapter to operate in the public interest and to afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views on issues of public importance.
(b) Broadcast media rates
The charges made for the use of any broadcasting station by any person who is a legally qualified candidate for any public office in connection with his campaign for nomination for election, or election, to such office shall not exceed -
(1) during the forty-five days preceding the date of a primary or primary runoff election and during the sixty days preceding the date of a general or special election in which such person is a candidate, the lowest unit charge of the station for the same class and amount of time for the same period; and
(2) at any other time, the charges made for comparable use of such station by other users thereof.
(c) Definitions
For purposes of this section -
(1) the term "broadcasting station" includes a community antenna television system; and
(2) the terms "licensee" and "station licensee" when used with respect to a community antenna television system mean the operator of such system.
(d) Rules and regulations
The Commission shall prescribe appropriate rules and regulations to carry out the provisions of this section.

Hint: Reagan removed "number 4". How-much of this applied to the the Swifboating of John Kerry? It should be obvious to those who believe in a democratice-media. Any takers? Bringing-back the Fairness Doctrine as law would be a good first-step in retaking our country from right-wing corporatists.