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|T – DeMint to Force Vote Next Week on Bill to Stop Fairness Doctrine
President Obama says his administration opposes the Fairness Doctrine, which violates free speech; the DeMint-Thune Broadcaster Freedom Act take a stand against such censorship
Yesterday, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina), chairman of the Senate Steering Committee, announced that he will offer the Broadcaster Freedom Act (S.34) as an amendment to the D.C. Voting Rights bill next week. The Broadcaster Freedom Act, introduced by U.S. Senators DeMint and John Thune (R-South Dakota), prevents the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from reinstating the Fairness Doctrine, which would suppress free speech by requiring the government to monitor political views and decide what constitutes fair political discourse.
President Obama stated yesterday that he opposes the fairness doctrine, but Democrats in Congress have disagreed with the administration and announced their support for suppressing free speech on the radio, including: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan), Charles Schumer (D-New York), Jeff Bingaman (D-New Mexico), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Diane Feinstein (D-California).
“I’m glad President Obama finally confirmed his opposition to the Fairness Doctrine, which attacks the right of free speech on talk radio, but many Democrats in Congress are still pushing it. With the support of the new administration, now is the time for Congress to take a stand against this kind of censorship,” said Senator DeMint. “I intend to seek a vote on this amendment next week so every senator is on record: Do you support free speech or do you want to silence voices you disagree with?”
The Fairness Doctrine was implemented by the FCC in 1949 in an attempt to ensure balanced and fair coverage of controversial subject matter by broadcasters. In 1985, the FCC determined that the Fairness Doctrine was no longer necessary due to the emergence of a “multiplicity of voices in the marketplace.” The FCC was also of the view that the Fairness Doctrine may have violated the First Amendment. In a 1987 case, the courts declared that the doctrine was not mandated by Congress and the FCC did not have to continue to enforce it. Twice, Congress has passed legislation restoring the Fairness Doctrine, but Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush vetoed the bills.
The DeMint-Thune Senate bill, S. 34, has 29 cosponsors including Senators Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia), Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), and Johnny Isakson(R-Georgia).
The Broadcaster Freedom Act has also been introduced in the House by U.S. Congressmen Mike Pence (R-Indiana), chairman of the House Republican Conference, and Greg Walden (R-Oregon) and the bill currently has 177 cosponsors.