Monday, May 14, 2007

The Return of the "Un" Fairness Doctrine

The American Spectator has the story of the resurrection of the Fairness Doctrine:
Much of the doctrine, regulated through the FCC, was largely dumped in 1987. Other parts of it, related to "personal attack" rule and the "political editorial" rule, remained in place until 2000. The personal attack rule required anyone "attacked" over the airwaves to be notified beforehand and given an opportunity to respond. A similar rule was followed for the political editorial, where a broadcaster endorsing one political candidate or issue had to give similar time for a response from those not endorsed or supported.

The decision to press for re-establishment of the Fairness Doctrine now seems to have developed for two reasons. "First, [Democrats] failed on the radio airwaves with Air America, no one wanted to listen," says a senior adviser to Pelosi. "Conservative radio is a huge threat and political advantage for Republicans and we have had to find a way to limit it. Second, it looks like the Republicans are going to have someone in the presidential race who has access to media in ways our folks don't want, so we want to make sure the GOP has no advantages going into 2008."
Like so much that happens in Washington, the move is purely political. However, this one seems so much more blatantly partisan than anything else.

The pure fact of the matter is the liberal talk radio just doesn't garner an audience. If it did, I am certain most conservative radio would welcome the competition. However, conservative talk radio is a homegrown thing, they built an audience slowly and over time. Liberal talk radio tried to buy an immediate audience, but failed.

There is a difference in tone as well. Liberal talk radio, as exampled by Al Franken, was bitter, harsh and negative. Most conservative hosts (although there are exceptions) tend to be positive, patriotic and entertaining. They have an audience and the whole point of the fairness doctrine is to make an audience that generally doesn't work. If this stupid bills goes through, look for an explosion on Blog Talk Radio and other similar services.

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