(H/t Muncie Free Press) Rep. Mike Pence (IN-06) has introduced H.R. 2905 which seeks to prohibit imposition of the Fairness Doctrine by the FCC. Specifically it prohibits the Commission from prescribing a rule requiring “that broadcasters present opposing viewpoints on controversial issues of public importance.” Pence is calling it the “Broadcaster Freedom Act,” but it should probably be called the “Rightwing Radio Protection Act.”
(Unrelated side note – I went to the Google and searched for IN-06 Pence – and a Barry Welsh diary on Kos showed up. Apparently Pence’s brother ran those sad Tobacco Road convenience stores before they filed bankruptcy and getting appointed by Gov. Daniels to a position in IDEM.)
Bil Browning says
As a side note, I read the Kos diary and there is one glaring mistake. I worked for Kiel Brothers Oil for several years running their stores in management positions.
Greg Pence was the CEO for a short while, but it was not “the Pence family business.” It was the Kiel family business – hence the name Kiel Brothers. :) Pence came in to try and clean up the place and restore profits. By the time he came in though, it was too late.
Other interesting tidbit… The Swifty chain of full-service gas stations? They’re owned by the 3rd Kiel brother; he split off from the other brothers after Kiel Sr. died and left the stations to his 3 sons. The family still owns them today.
Kevin Knuth says
I wish the fairness doctrine would be brought back.
Has anyone else noticed how ANGRY political speech has become since the Right Wing got their own broadcast media?
Yet when you share FACTS with people, they say…”huh…..I didn’t know that”.
Go figure- Rush and Hannity only tell PART of the story.
I tend to think that as non-broadcast media has proliferated, the importance of the Fairness Doctrine has diminished. It was a trade off: the government keeps the rest of the population off of the regulated public airwaves so the broadcaster can actually broadcast effectively; and the broadcaster submits to regulation in exchange for access to this valuable public property (i.e. the broadcast spectrum). The broadcast spectrum had to be regulated because it was scarce — if everybody tried to crowd onto it, it became worthless.
Cable is much less limited by scarcity (monopoly bottlenecks are a different question). And, the Internet is the real game changer.
Still and all, it’s a little annoying to hear over the public airwaves some idiot report that Obama advocated “nuking” Afghanistan.
Part of the problem, I think, is the legacy of credibility that the broadcasters currently enjoy — because of the Fairness Doctrine, the information broadcast over the radio had been generally even-handed and factual. With the Fairness Doctrine lifted, the actual broadcast has all of the reliability of an Internet site but without people necessarily listening with the skepticism they would ordinarily bring to an Internet site. That’s probably changing to a great extent as people become more media savvy.
Mike Kole says
Here’s my experience in community radio: Until the so-called Fairness Doctrine went away, we stayed away from politically-oriented broadcasts. Once it did, our station flourished with every kind of politics imaginable, with feminist, socialist, communist, and even my own libertarian show- plus many more. As a community station, the management took it on as its’ mission to reach underserved audiences.
The biggest “Fairness Doctrine” problem was that anyone could jam up a show that came from a particular perspective by writing in and demanding equal time. That time came from the show that tried to reach a particular underserved audience. For my part, I was disinterested in facilitating time to people I disagreed with. “Get your own show” was my point to them. Their interest was in disruption, really. All of the political shows suffered this very legal harassment.
So, we gave up on it. We stopped having political interviews, because invariably the other candidate would demand equal time. Did it matter if that candidate was outfunding the original candidate by 100-to-1? Nope. “Fairness Doctrine” said “equal time”. We gave up our shows until such time as the “Fairness Doctrine” went away.
For my part, I cannot for the life of me understand why talk radio is so completely dominated by the right wing, apart for market supply and demand. I have listened to the far left station in Chicago every time I’ve been working there, and found that they are capable of being every bit as pollyanna as the right, so the ‘talent’ is out there.
At any rate, the idea of re-introducing the FD looks purely partisan to me, and the silencing of free speech. If you can’t compete, shut ’em down.
Not to be too conspiracy minded, but is it possible that the owners of radio licenses (or the Board of Directors of the companies who do) might tend toward the rightward edge of the spectrum? After all, radio licenses are expensive. It might be supposed that the owners of such licenses might favor policies that protect those who already have wealth.
Your practical concerns are legitimate, however. The Fairness Doctrine might lead to no political discussions at all via broadcast. For what it’s worth, I don’t know that there is any serious discussion about re-imposing the Fairness Doctrine; Pence has just introduced legislation that would prevent a future President from re-doing what Reagan undid via the FCC.
Go ahead. Impose the fairness doctrine. It doesn’t apply to XM. Everybody but Rush is simulcast on XM.
All the FD will do is gut AM radio and make XM a hell of a lot more profitable.
Or maybe Apple will sell more 2nd gen iPhones, which can stream internet radio.
Rev. AJB says
Roe Conn (WLS-Chicago) isn’t on XM, and I’d miss him. He tends to be conservative, but typically talks about more humorous topics in the world. (He is also quite progressive when it comes to gay rights). Of course I sometimes catch the last few minutes of that great comedian, Rush, before Roe’s show starts.
One thing that I like about Roe is that he is willing to listen to the other side (when callers call in who disagree with him) and laugh at his own shortcomings. Yesterday’s topics that really interested me was his conversation with the Illinois Secretary of State and a conversation he and his co-horts had about the American Film Institutes list of the top ten films of ten different genres-and how wrong they were with some of their choices. (Although “Breaking Away” was #8 and “Hoosiers” was #4 in the sports genre!) He also ripped on a Fox commentator who was fired for saying that Obama’s fist bump with his wife was a “terrorist hand gesture.”
Mike’s point about the paucity of left-wing talk radio is interesting. (NPR’s Diane Rehm Show is pretty close.) According to those little tests, I’m a fairly typical liberal, and I can tell you this: I don’t like left wing talk radio much better than right wing talk radio. Both generate a lot more heat than light. Anyway, I can bash Bush on my own, I don’t need a huckster to do it for me.
Fairness is so subjective anyway — I always like to say: “Fair is a place where pigs win blue ribbons”. Should ‘Science Friday’ have to run ‘Superstition Saturday’ as a counterpoint?
I love Roe Conn as well.
I read some interesting conjecture at one point about how radio talk is dominated by the right and the blogosphere seems to be dominated by the left. The supposition was that this represents who was hungriest politically as the particular format took off. Just a thought.
Rev. AJB says
Forgot you can get him in Lafayette.
Doug, guess you’re in good company, because I get my “conservative” stuff from Roe and my “liberal” stuff from you!
The super wealthy give equally to the Democratic and Republican parties. Look at the donor lists, and you’ll see many of the same names on both party lists. Talking about right or left isn’t really useful anymore. Just because you’re to the left of the Republicans ain’t sayin’ much. Almost ANY media is dominated by 2 political parties in the US, and other viewpoints are shut out from the debate.
Chris Spangle says
Just because you don’t like the speech, it doesn’t mean you can limit it. The Democrats want the Fairness Doctrine, and the Republicans want to “clean up our airwaves.”
I think talk radio works because its audience likes to be told how angry to be, where to call, where to boycott, how to vote, etc. It mirrors a lot of the things we’ve heard in the Bush years, the support for a stronger, more authoritarian and less constrained executive, for instance. That type of thing works for a certain audience. If you don’t have your flag pin on, you’re suspect. If you don’t like being wire-tapped without judicial oversight then you must be up to something. Such an audience thrives on fear and suspicion, and anger.
The internet is a more do-it-yourself operation. That appeals more to the disorganized mess that is the “Left”. The whole discussion of “netroots” and its effect on politics usually has one important take-home point, which is that various agitators gather ourselves up and gather steam from the bottom up, building momentum upward to get policy changes to happen, to get people elected, etc. On the “Right”, a talking head on the radio, or a committee head in the party delegates downward to sell their ideas (with the “little people” limited to roles like forwarding church membership lists to the central party so that they can receive the message from above. On the Left it bubbles up from the bottom, takes longer, but has been more effective lately.
You can see this in talk radio, where rightwing programming thrives. You see it on the internet, which has been an incredibly powerful tool for the Left, but not effectively used by the Right. Just look at the types of comments and postings you see on various sites, where commenters on rightwing sites tend to say, “BUMP!” or “Ditto” alot as they agree with what whatever pronouncement came down from above, while the leftwing sites tend to be more diary driven, and comment sections tend to have much more creative (and wittier) comments.
Let them have radio, as long as we can keep the nets free and unconstrained.
Mike Kole says
Doug- Responding to the conspiratorially inspired item, I find it all perplexing. We’re pretty well agreed that ownership of media is consolidating, and yet some formats tend to be right (talk radio) and others owned by the same folks are left (TV broadcast news departments), and others still are all over the map (newspapers especially). Government corporate media is decidedly leftward- PBS & NPR.
At the base of it, I figure if a private entity is paying to put up the content, it should have the right to free self-expression. If we’re all paying, it’s a different story. I think a Fairness Doctrine has it’s place on NPR and PBS, which should sound far more neutral as BBC does.
About talk radio..My family listens to all the RW talk radio pundits all the time because they hear what they already believe so they know they’re right.
My 70+ parents listen to it because they say that is all that is on the radio. They also say that it helps them know what the enemy is saying and thinking! :-)
Rev. AJB says
I was at Holiday Wotld with my in-laws last week. My FIL turns to my SIL and starts laughing about a sound bite that either Rush or Hannity played of Obama the day before. I just walked away b/c I knew that if I opened my mouth it wouldn’t have been pretty-and it would not have changed their views one little bit!
It’s refreshing that after being wrong about so many things over the last several years, they can still have a good laugh about it all.
Rev. AJB says
Nah, they were just laughing at what a doofus Obama is.
But they won’t change and are convinced that they are right, so it is not even worth me wasting my breath on it!
BTW I wonder what they would think if they knw their youngest duaghter voted for Hillary because she…gasp…actually likes Hillary? At least their two graves are already in place, and the stone is in place, for when that heart attack hits;-)
If “doofus” were an Olympic sport, their guy Bush would be its Mark Spitz.