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Fairness Doctrine Watch: The Dem campaign continues Update: Rep. Pence leads challenge to beat back threat…bill added

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By Michelle Malkin  •  June 27, 2007 10:14 AM

You know, it’s really funny. Last week, when I noted that the left-wing Center for American Progress report on talk radio was a clever part of the Dem campaign to resurrect the Fairness Doctrine, the nutroots scoffed. Fairness Doctrine? Who said anything about the Fairness Doctrine?

Who did?

Dennis Kucinich did.

Dianne Feinstein did.

Now, John Kerry has.

Drudge posted Kerry’s remarks on YouTube. The video notes say Kerry made the remarks to WNYC talk host Brian Lehrer (no date). The transcript:

“I think the Fairness Doctrine ought to be there and I also think equal time doctrine ought to come back. I mean these are the people who wiped out one of the most profound changes in the balance of the media is when the conservatives got rid of the equal time requirements. And the result is that, you know, they’ve been able to squeeze down and squeeze out opinion of opposing views and I think it’s been an important transition in the imbalance of our public…”

And The Hill reports:

House Republican lawmakers are preparing to fight anticipated Democratic efforts to regulate talk radio by reviving rules requiring stations to balance conservative hosts such as Rush Limbaugh with liberals such as Al Franken.

Conservatives fear that forcing stations to make equal time for liberal talk radio would cut into profits so drastically that radio executives would opt to scale back on conservative radio programming to avoid escalating costs and interference from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

They say radio stations would take a financial hit if forced to air balanced programming because liberal talk radio has not proved itself to be as profitable as conservative radio. Air America, the liberal counterpunch to conservative talk radio, filed for bankruptcy in October.

But Democratic leaders say that government has a compelling interest to ensure that listeners are properly informed.

“It’s time to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine,” said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). “I have this old-fashioned attitude that when Americans hear both sides of the story, they’re in a better position to make a decision.”

Alan Sears puts it simply: ‘Fairness Doctrine’ Is A Code Name For “Censorship”

When the Left fails in the marketplace, it turns to government.

It will take everything the GOP minority has to beat this back.

Rep. Mike Pence is ready. He’s introduced legislation today to combat the “Fairness” brigade. Here’s the press release:

In remarks to be presented on the floor of the U.S. House today, U.S. Congressman Mike Pence, a former radio talk show host, will discuss a bill he plans to introduce that would prevent reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine:

“The American people love a fair fight, especially where the issues of the day are debated. In a free market, fairness should be determined based upon equal opportunity, not equal results. As some voices are calling for Congress to enforce their idea of ‘fairness’ upon the American people, it would be good for us to proceed with caution whenever some would achieve their ‘fairness’ by limiting the freedom of others.

“Beginning in 1949, the Federal Communications Commission and its precursor developed and enforced the so-called Fairness Doctrine. The Fairness Doctrine required broadcasters to present controversial issues in a fair and balanced manner. However, because of the lack of clarity in the Commission’s ruling, broadcasters opted to offer non-controversial programming in lieu of hours of paperwork or countless legal fees.

“Thankfully, the FCC began to overturn its own ruling on the Fairness Doctrine in 1985. And, following that change in policy by the FCC and President Reagan’s veto of attempts to reinstate it, the results have been dramatic. The lifting of the Fairness Doctrine has opened the public airwaves to free and vigorous discussion of controversial issues by individuals of all political stripes.

“Since the demise of the Fairness Doctrine, talk radio has emerged as a dynamic forum for public debate and an asset to the nation.

“Unfortunately, in the name of fairness, there has been much talk in recent days about the need to level the playing field of radio broadcasting by restoring the Fairness Doctrine.

“A liberal think tank recently condemned what they called the ‘massive imbalance’ on the radio airwaves.

“Some elected officials have said that Congress should ‘deal with that problem’ and others are ‘looking at’ bringing back this outright regulation of the American political debate.

“Bringing back the Fairness Doctrine would amount to government control over political views expressed on the public airwaves. It is a dangerous proposal to suggest the government should be in the business of rationing free speech.

“Congress must take action to ensure that this archaic remnant of a bygone era of American radio does not return. There is nothing fair about the Fairness Doctrine.

“During my years in radio and television, I developed a great respect for a free and independent press. Since being in Congress, I have been the recipient of praise and criticism from broadcast media, but it has not changed my fundamental belief that a free and independent press must be vigorously defended by those who love liberty. It is with this in mind that I will introduce the Broadcaster Freedom Act.

“The Broadcaster Freedom Act will prohibit the Federal Communications Commission from prescribing rules, regulations, or policies that will reinstate the requirement that broadcasters present opposing viewpoints in controversial issues of public importance. The Broadcaster Freedom Act will prevent the FCC or any future President from reinstating the Fairness Doctrine. This legislation ensures true freedom and fairness will remain on our radio airwaves, and I would encourage my colleagues to cosponsor and support this bill.

“John F. Kennedy stated, ‘We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.’”

Pence is holding a phone conference at 10:30am. Will report back shortly.

10:45am. I’m on the call now. Rep. Pence will be waging battle on two fronts. In addition to the Broadcaster Freedom Act, he has an amendment with GOP Reps. Hensarling and Flake that will be brought to the Financial Services Appropriations bill this week. The amendment, if allowed, would prevent funds from being used to enforce the Fairness Doctrine–and would put every member of Congress on record. The vote is expected before the end of the week.

Pence is currently seeking original co-sponsors for the Broadcaster Freedom Act. He noted that the fight will be a difficult one given the “fairness” mantle worn by the Left: “This is going to be a tall hill to climb.” Pence deemed the threat “a very serious threat–an existential threat to the conservative movement as it is currently defined.” He reiterated: “There’s nothing fair about the Fairness Doctrine.”

Here’s Pence’s bill. It’s short and to the point:

pence1.jpg

pence002.jpg

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Rich Lowry’s column on the push is here. Rush Limbaugh responds here.

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Categories: Air America, Al Franken, Fairness Doctrine, Race Hustlers

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