Congresswoman Pushes for Return of 'Fairness Doctrine' and Extend It to Cable and Satellite

Although president-elect Barack Obama has stated that he is opposed to the reimposition of the so-called Fairness Doctrine, it remains to be seen if he can resist the pressure of Congress to bring back a measure that many on the left favor because they claim it will "Hush Rush." Leading the charge for bringing back the Fairness Doctrine is Congresswoman Anna Eshoo of California. According to this report, Eshoo not only wants to bring it back but to extend it to absurdly include cable and satellite where public airwaves are not even involved:

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, said Monday she will work to restore the Fairness Doctrine and have it apply to cable and satellite programming as well as radio and TV.

“I’ll work on bringing it back. I still believe in it,” Eshoo told the Daily Post in Palo Alto.

The Fairness Doctrine required TV and radio stations to balance opposing points of view. It meant that those who disagreed with the political slant of a commentator were entitled to free air time to give contrasting points of view, usually in the same time slot as the original broadcast.

The doctrine was repealed by the Reagan administration's Federal Communications Commission in 1987, and a year later, Rush Limbaugh's show went national, ushering in a new form of AM radio. 

Conservative talk show hosts fear the doctrine will result in their programs being canceled because stations don't want to offer large amounts of air time to opponents whose response programs probably wouldn't get good ratings.

Eshoo said she would recommend the doctrine be applied not only to radio and TV broadcasts, but also to cable and satellite services.

“It should and will affect everyone,” she said.

She called the present system “unfair,” and said "there should be equal time for the spoken word."

Wow! Talk about over the edge. Will Eshoo next institute the "Fairness Doctrine" to private conversations? Talk about not being an advocate of free speech. Fortunately, some Republicans are starting to wake up from their long slumber as note this reaction by House Minority Leader, John Boehner, as reported by Broadcasting & Cable:

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), said Tuesday he is concerned about Rep. Anne Eshoo's statements to the Palo Alto Daily Post that she will push for reimposition of the Fairness Doctrine.

Boehner called on President-elect Barack Obama to speak out against any congressional effort to "limit free speech."

Obama has twice told B&C through an aide that he is opposed to the return of the doctrine, which required broadcasters to air both sides of controversial issues.

“The so-called ‘Fairness Doctrine’ would restrict free speech on the public airwaves, stifling dissent at a time when an open national dialogue about our country’s future is essential," said Boehner in an e-mailed statement Tuesday a copy of which was supplied to B&C. "The American people do not believe the federal government should be in the business of dictating or restricting the content of political speech. I’m troubled by Rep. Eshoo’s comments, and my hope is that President-elect Obama will speak out against efforts by members of his party to use their majority power to limit free speech and dissent.”

Boehner was responding to an interview Monday in which Eshoo, a member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee whose chair will be fellow Californian Herny Waxman, told the paper: "I’ll work on bringing it back. I still believe in it,” and adding that she would want it to apply to cable and satellite rather than just radio and TV.

The doctrine, which only applied to broadcasting, was scrapped by the FCC as unconstitutional in 1987. Congress tried to revive it, but President and former broadcaster Ronald Reagan vetoed it once and pledged to a broadcaster in a letter at the time that he would block it again if congress tried to reimpose it.

The doctrine's demise is credited--or blamed, depending on who is citing it--for the rise in conservative talk radio. Hosts including Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin have expressed concerns that the new Democratic regime in Congress will try to reinstate the doctrine as a way to silence their critics.
 It will be interesting to hear if Rush Limbaugh, the primary target of the Hush Rush "Fairness Doctrine," will be commenting on this when he returns to the airwaves tomorrow. And remember, Eshoo is trying to block all avenues of free speech...over the airwaves, cable, and satellite.

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Fairness Doctrine