Saturday, January 15


Get more information on The Fairness Doctrine and/or sign the petition here.

I have a little piece of personal trivia regarding the days when The Fairness Doctrine was still the law of the airwaves. My first-grade boyfriend's dad was an on-air personality on our local TV morning show (the only channel operating in our town at the time) when he decided to run for public office. Because he was understandably extremely well-known in the community by virtue of his TV show exposure, the FCC ruled that the station had to give his (Republican) opponent an hour of free airtime every day until the election. So the opponent showed up every day, trying to entertain and speechify for an hour without making an utter fool of himself, until he acknowledged that that's just what had happened and voluntarily gave up his hour.

By the time another close family friend, a local news anchor, made a decision to run for Congress, his (also Republican) opponent didn't even try to raise the issue. But that's beside the point. My point is that while the community (and my family) kvetched about the futility of trying to "even up" the playing field by awarding free airtime to non-professionals running for office, WE ALL KNEW AND ACKNOWLEDGED THAT IT WAS THE RIGHT THING TO DO because democracy depends on an informed citizenry, exposed to both sides of important issues. Cases like I've just reported (shades of welfare abuse! frivolous lawsuits! though note that the litigant was a REPUBLICAN) provided fuel for Reagan's dismissal of the Doctrine, but the Doctrine itself is sound.

The Fairness Doctrine is about much more than this little piece of history demonstrates. Its real purpose is to give "fair and balanced" coverage, or information, to the public. The airwaves are OWNED BY THE PUBLIC and their guardians are supposed to be serving the interests of their public masters, not their corporate leaseholders.

Gee, imagine an American citizenry that was actually INFORMED rather than just PROPAGANDIZED.

The actual proposed legislation is here.


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