WASHINGTON, DC Today, Senators Norm Coleman (R-MN), Jim DeMint (R-SC), James Inhofe (R-OK) and John Thune (R-SD) held a news conference with Reps. Mike Pence (R-IN) and Greg Walden (R-OR) to unveil an amendment ensuring the so-called "Fairness Doctrine" is not reinstated. The amendment will be offered to the Defense Authorization Bill in the Senate, which will likely be voted on within the next week.
Last month, by a vote of 309-115, the House of Representatives adopted an amendment offered by Reps. Pence and Walden to the Financial Services and General Government Bill that bars the FCC from using federal funds to reinstate the "Fairness Doctrine."
Today, NAB President and CEO David K. Rehr sent a letter to every U.S. Senate office, urging lawmakers to oppose reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine. "Free speech must be just that free from government influence, interference and censorship," the letter read.
Prior to its abolishment in 1987, an FCC policy known as the "Fairness Doctrine" required television and radio broadcasters to present all contrasting points of view in any coverage of a controversial issue of public importance. In the FCC's 1985 Fairness Report, the Commission asserted that the doctrine no longer produced its desired effect and instead caused a "chilling effect" on news coverage that might be in violation of the First Amendment. Despite the phenomenal growth of diverse viewpoints in broadcasting, cable television, satellite TV and radio and the Internet, some lawmakers have recently called for the Fairness Doctrine's reinstatement.
Commenting on today's Senate action, Rehr said, "NAB and local broadcasters across America applaud these senators for recognizing the undeniable importance of free speech, unfettered from government interference. America 's radio listeners and television viewers enjoy a rich diversity of program choice that would be inhibited -- not enhanced -- by the reinstatement of a draconian doctrine that long ago outlived its usefulness."
The National Association of Broadcasters is a trade association that advocates on behalf of more than 8,300 free, local radio and television stations and also broadcast networks before Congress, the Federal Communications Commission and the Courts. Information about NAB can be found at www.nab.org.