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The Freedom / Fairness Doctrine

Have you all hear of this? Over dinner yesterday my hubby and mother-in-law were discussing and I felt this was a blog worthy issue. It seems some of the liberals in Washington are trying to revive this appropriately dead doctrine.

Here is a brief description I copied from a couple of different sources:

"Moves are afoot among liberals to revive the defunct "Fairness Doctrine." That was a regulation issued by the Federal Communications Commission which required broadcast licensees to present "both sides" of controversial issues, and present them in what the FCC deemed to be an honest, equal and balanced manner. It has since been repealed by the FCC, and aspects of it have been questioned by the courts." --ACRU (American Civil Rights Union)

"The Fairness Doctrine was a policy of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that required the holders of broadcast licenses both to present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was (in the Commission's view) honest, equitable, and balanced." -- Wikipedia

If I turn on a Christian talk radio show (or a conservative radio show, or a liberal show, and so on and so on) I know what I am going to get. I am not going to come away disgusted because they left out the opposing view on a particular topic. Do you tune into a country music station and change the channel because they don't play rap?

So, my question is if I tune in to listen to liberal talk radio or conservative talk radio, why in the hell should that station feel the need to present the other side of the issue? First of all, I am obviously tuning in to hear this specific radio program because I am in agreement with the general ideas of the station. Second, am I not smart enough to know what the opposite side believes??? Third, why does the government have the right to dictate what a radio station transmits? (Obviously things like foul language might be a different story here, but you know what I mean.) Are we forgetting about the first amendment altogether?

6 comments:

Anonymous 11:47 AM  

The FD is trying to establish editorial balance. Much easier said than done though. Its essence isn’t about restriction of speech. And it doesn’t apply to satellite or digital radio or the internet or cable TV shows. So Hannity and Colmes can be all Hannity and Colmes and Rachel Maddow can be all Rachel Maddow. And we can continue to post whatever we want, one-sided, even. It applies to people who have broadcast licenses, which, I think, are government controlled, no?

I don’t like that the Powers that Be at the FCC get to decide what is considered fair and balanced. And I am not sure that this will encourage hearty debate: In fact I think it might make the broadcasters under this rule avoid hot-button issues more.If you had to give equal time on yoru blog to people wth the opposite view, what would you do? I might just stick to talking abot my twins.

But, I have to say, all issues to me are MUCH more interesting when I hear other sides. I may be against the death penalty, but I don’t really need to listen to someone talk about the reasons why it is awful. Preaching to the choir, as it were. I like to hear why people are FOR it. That helps me to focus my own ideals and thoughts and adds depth to my own convictions. And arguments and disagreements are about “I see your point and I raise you” and not just “you are SO wrong!”

So, as a journalist myself, I am against this. But, that said, as with most of these issues, I wish that broadcasters would take it upon themselves to be journalists, which means offering more than just one view sometimes, and leave the preaching to the preachers. Yes, there is a place for editorializing, but I still think it is in people’s best interests to show the other sides. So if were on a radio broadcast, let me say why I think the death penalty is evil and then use my own logic against me! That is the American way, no?!

And you have to admit, the only thing that makes that show The View watchable is the fact that there is an opposite view point on it!

tim 5:38 PM  

What did your mother-in-law have to say about it?

I would guess the idea behind the law is to prevent propagandizing, but it seems like a futile attempt. (oh...and propaganda starts with taking away things like free speech, so it actually works against its very purpose)

First off, if the fairness doctrine is kept, it essentially forces you to lie in order to be PC instead of giving an honest opinion. Also, what's to prevent the FCC from deciding something isn't a hot topic and therefore letting it be one sided anyway?

An example of that would be homosexuality, which gets closer and closer to being accepted as normal moral behavior all the time. How do you make the distinction between hot topic and not? Do we need to hear both sides on the morality of murder? or are we pretty sure we've got that one figured out?

Yes, i agree it is very good to look at both sides of issues and that people mostly don't, but it can't be forced upon you in a law. You just have to let people be who they are and say what they believe. If there are two sides to an issue, they will make sure they are heard. People are pretty dang good at that. Listening on the other hand...

If I'm a broadcaster and I am forced to speak in favor of a view I oppose, I'll still reveal my true beliefs through my tone and body language. So good luck FCC

Anonymous 6:23 PM  

Reading Tim's response, two things: First, I am not sure the broadcasters would be forced to tell the other side. They would be required to present both sides of the issue through reporting or through another person. But still, it is messy and awkward and just wouldn't work. And the pocket of people who this would apply to is so so small, compared to the news outlets on satellite radio, cable and the internet.

The FCC, in a way, is oh so very power hungry and always has been.

Second point: Homosexuality, which you said gets closer to being accepted as normal moral behavior. This just rubbed me the wrong way. I get the whole thing about what is a hot topic and what is not, and I can see your point about is homosexuality something that needs to be presented from two points, etc. It's the words "normal moral behavior." I guess I just never thought it wasn't normal or moral. Yes, I know that there are some religious groups that would disagree completely, but... just gets my dander up, so to speak.

tim 10:56 PM  

your thoughts on homosexuality proves my point, thanks. It was a much hotter topic just ten years ago.

MrsSpock 6:34 PM  

I think when the first line says, "Movements are afoot among liberals" it clues me in that the ACRU just might not be reporting news in a balanced, even manner.

I don't think anyone expects talk shows and cable news networks (I'm thinking both Fox and CNN here) to feature balanced and even-handed reporting. If I want that, I tune into Public Television or NPR.

Should journalistic ethics include fairness and accuracy when it comes to opposing viewpoints? Yes. Do we need everyone taking each other to court over it? No thanks.

Kristen 10:49 PM  

Mrs. Spock - Give me NPR for more fair news any day. :D

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Over 8 years we have struggled through 3 IUI's, 6 rounds of IVF, several RE's, hundreds of appointments and the loss of three little angels. Now we find ourselves the proud parents of two perfect little girls and a wonderful little boy!!

Both of our girls struggle with some disabilities but that won't keep us down. Each day has it's own brand of insanity but we love it. Most days I am more monkey wrangler than mother but I do the best I can. Todays goal - getting to tomorrow.

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