Melon Farmers Original Version

Censorship by Fairness

Demands that radio and TV should be fair to all views

28th August

Update: Unstifled by Fairness...

FCC finally getting rid of last vestiges of the Fairness Doctrine

The Fairness Doctrine was a US requirement banning one-sided news programming. Of course this proved somewhat stifling in the land of 'shock jocks' and Fox News.

The US TV censors of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) enforced The Doctrine from the late 1940s through the early 1980s. The agency, not Congress, created the rule. It said that broadcasters had to provide reasonable opportunity for contrasting points of view. In the early 1980s the FCC concluded that the policy (which, in fact, was rarely enforced) was having a chilling effect on broadcasters, and let it go. Then Congress tried to restore it several times, but these efforts were vetoed by Presidents Reagan and the first President Bush.

But now FCC Chair Julius Genachowski announced that the policy needs to be scotched yet again:

An unnecessary distriction, Genachowski called the Fairness Doctrine, which holds the potential to chill free speech and the free flow of ideas and was properly abandoned over two decades ago. I am pleased we are removing these and other obsolete rules from our books.

In fact the FCC left vestigial references to the concept in its rule book, eg:

The Fairness Doctrine is contained in section 315(a) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, which provides that broadcasters have certain obligations to afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views on issues of public importance.

Section 315(a) covers broadcasters obligations to political candidates. It says that if radio and TV station licensees offer air time to any given political candidate, they have to offer equal opportunities to other candidates, except when it comes to news stories.

Now it, and 82 other outdated and obsolete media-related rules have been dumped, Genachowski pledged:

The elimination of the obsolete Fairness Doctrine regulations will remove an unnecessary distraction, his press statement added. As I have said, striking this from our books ensures there can be no mistake that what has long been a dead letter remains dead.


14th June

Update: End of the So Called Fairness Doctrine...

Fox News no longer required to be fair and balanced

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced that it is abandoning the so-called Fairness Doctrine, an FCC policy introduced in 1949 which requires the holders of broadcast licenses to both present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was, in the Commission's view, honest, equitable and balanced.

Congress backed the policy in 1954, and by the 1970s the FCC called the doctrine the single most important requirement of operation in the public interest required for a renewal of license.

Much of the regulation was repealed in the 1980s under FCC Chairman Fowler, but the doctrine is still technically on the books. Representative Greg Walden, chairman of the subcommittee on communications, applauded the news that it would be eliminated: We are heartened by your continued opposition to the Fairness Doctrine because of its chilling effects on free speech and the free flow of ideas.

Just as opponents of the so-called Fairness Doctrine are applauding efforts by the FCC to fully eliminate the regulation that once mandated political diversity on the airwaves, some are warning that the doctrine's proponents could pursue the same goals without the measure.

Commissioner Robert McDowell, a Republican, is urged caution: I think what happened today at the FCC is positive, but folks shouldn't be popping any champagne corks just yet . McDowell warns that traces of the Fairness Doctrine are still on the books and it will take some time to truly eliminate them. He says his goal is to get that done by the end of the year.


12th December

Update: In the Name of Diversity...

FCC again considering government controls for US news

You will ALL promote diversity in
EXACTLY the way we tell you 

The concept of the news or press has expanded to include all forms of media - print and digital. However, the one common denominator shared by news media is that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) seems to think all should meet a prospective set of federal criteria.

Representative Joe Barton questioned an  idea from an FCC commissioner that the government should create new regulations to promote diversity in news programming.

Barton was reacting to a recommendation made last week by FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, who suggested in a speech that broadcasters should be subjected to a new public values test every four years.

I hope … that you do not mean to suggest that it is the job of the federal government, through the [FCC], to determine the content that is available for Americans to consume, Barton said in a letter to Copps.

Copps has suggested that his proposed test would make a broadcaster's license renewal depend upon showing proof that they meet a prospective set of federally mandated criteria.

Copps said that those groups that wish to be considered news outlets should be mandated to do the following: prove that they have made a commitment to public affairs and news programming (like showing a proper ratio of women and minorities), report to the government about which shows they are planning on airing, require greater disclosure about who is funding political ads and devote 25% of their prime coverage to local news stories.

It is doubtful that anyone would be able to escape the FCC' grasp under the proposed rules since the regulations would apply to all news outlets operating on the public airwaves. And there are a good amount of politicians who consider the Internet to be public airwaves, and who feel that government should have a monopoly on deciding what happens over those airwaves.

Barton also asked if five commissioners can do a better job of ensuring that Americans have access to a wide diversity of content and viewpoints than Americans can themselves by expressing their preferences ... in the vigorously competitive marketplace.

The FCC has a project that is ongoing about media diversity that promises to issue a report on whether or not Americans have access to adequate sources of news. The effort has seen strong criticism and the FCC has not said when their report will be released.


28th February

Update: Unfair Fairness Doctrine Dies...

Long live the new unfair fairness doctrine

The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly Thursday to pass a ban on the so-called Fairness Doctrine. The archaic doctrine would force radio stations to offer opposing viewpoints on controversial issues.

Senator Jim Demint sponsored the ban on the Fairness Doctrine, which the Senate passed 87-11.

The Senate almost immediately also passed what could amount to a stealth fairness doctrine in the form of regulations on media ownership. All 57 Democrats voted in favor of the amendment.

The new censorship threat was written by Illinois Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, The purpose is To encourage and promote diversity in communication media ownership, and to ensure that the public airwaves are used in the public interest.

Senate Democrats insist on keeping the idea of reviving the Fairness Doctrine alive, against the wishes of a majority of Americans, said Ashley Horne, federal policy analyst for the nutters of Focus on the Family Action.


29th December

Comment: In the Name of Fairness...

US Democrats look to censor political views on TV, Radio, cable, satellite and internet

Under the guise of Fairness , our Congress Critters are considering forcing radio and TV stations to balance their hourly lineups across the ideological spectrum. One hour of conservative programming followed by one hour of liberal programming would be an example of fairness and balance . The on/off switch would no longer be necessary with the federal government protecting us from speech and thoughts that they think would contaminate our minds.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution says in part, Congress shall make no law. abridging the freedom of speech, Yet our Congress Critters are considering abridging freedom of speech. Last year Speaker Pelosi (D-Ca) blocked an attempt that would have prevented the government from resurrecting the practice of controlling ideological speech on the broadcast media. Senator Schumer (D-NY) suggested that regulating political content was the same as regulating pornography. Senators Dick Durbin (D-Il), John Kerry (D-Ma), Barbara Boxer (D-Ca), Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca), and Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY) are a few in the Democratic leadership that believes that the federal government should control ideological speech.

But Representative Anna Eshoo (D-Ca) goes even further. She said she planned to introduce legislation to control speech on broadcast stations (AM and FM) in addition to cable TV and satellite radio. Eshoo said, It should, and will, affect everyone.

Once the federal government heads down the path of censoring speech where will it end? FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell said that the speech limits may even extent to the Internet. McDowell also warned when you have the federal government dictating content you have a First Amendment problem. Then, whoever is in charge of government is going to determine what is fair.

Be very afraid when the federal government wants to mandate fairness. Censorship is the modus operandi of a totalitarian government.

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