Saturday, June 21, 2008

The unFairness Doctrine

There seems to be no small movement among certain people on the Left to reinstate, as a matter of federal regulation, the so-called "Fairness Doctrine." The Fairness Doctrine was a regulation that was supposedly designed to insure that radio and television stations gave "equal time" to both sides of an issue by insuring that if someone talked for three hours about issue A from one point of view, or about the issues from a certain viewpoint, a station had to give three hours to the opposite point of view.

In theory, this sounds like a wonderful idea. The problem, of course, is that radio and television stations which are privately owned are in the business of making a profit. They sell advertising to businesses, who look to advertise on programs that are highly rated and get a great many listeners so that their products and services get the maximum amount of exposure. The end result is that if a program on radio or television is not seen to have many listeners or viewers, it will be canceled.

If a radio or television station or network has a political or news program which tends to look at the issues from a certain point of view, and that program remains on the air, it does so because it is getting enough listeners or viewers to charge plenty of money for advertising during that time bloc. If the Fairness Doctrine were in force, a station would be forced to counter the popular program with another program from the opposite point of view. The second program may not be near as popular as the program which caused it to exist, and it would be a money loser.

This happened frequently in the days that the Fairness Doctrine was in force. The reaction of many radio and television stations was that rather than have a popular show that discussed the issues of the day from a certain point of view, the opted not to have any such programs with the exception of the most bland sort of news show. In this way, a station avoided having to waste money to abide by the Fairness Doctrine. Rather than enable the freedom of speech, the Fairness Doctrine helped to quash it.

In August of 1987, the FCC abolished the Fairness Doctrine by a unanimous vote. Since that time, the "fairness" that the doctrine was meant to uphold has been enhanced by the introduction of a myriad of different cable news channels and programs, as well as a proliferation of different views on the internet. A forceful introduction of the Fairness Doctrine in today's climate could be seen as an attempt to drive conservative talk radio and television from the air.

In the name of fairness and free speech, liberals would like to destroy free speech.

The irony and hypocrisy is really quite overwhelming.

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