Revive The Fairness Doctrine

Let’s start a discussion about reviving the Fairness Doctrine to re-introduce the commons and the idea that we tell the corporations what to do!
A few years ago, in a popular post about the Fairness Doctrine, I wrote,

This “Fairness Doctrine” requirement was intended to protect the public from the possibility of moneyed interests buying up all of the information sources, leaving the public hearing only their viewpoint.

I think that this may be an opportunity – if done right – to reintroduce the public to the idea of the commons: that the public owns the resources of the country, and the laws, and has the power to tell corporations what to do instead of the other way around. If we can project that into the discussion, it leads straight to a discussion of the tight concentration of ownership of the media by a few corporations. What better issues than something called “Fairness” and that so clearly can be demonstrated. There just are no voices of labor and other non- corporate opinions on the airwaves. The public is ready to hear that.
The demise of the Fairness Doctrine paved the way for this media consolidation, because issues around media consolidation were no longer discussed in the media. And that’s the problem now, as well, because it will be very difficult to get a good, honest, all-sides discussion of the commons and the Fairness Doctrine and media consolidation started — because of media consolidation and lack of a Fairness Doctrine.
So do we let the corporations just win this? Reagan unilaterally scrapped public control of the airwaves, vetoed it when Congress voted to bring it back, and then the Republicans filibustered the majority in following years every time the Congress tried again. Does that mean the Congress should stop trying and we should all just let the matter drop, and leave the public thinking that corporations have the right to control the airwaves?
Or does renewing the fight revive public discussion and understanding of these issues, leading to increased understanding of the need for Net Neutrality so big corporations can’t just block the public from even seeing union and progressive websites?
So I think reviving this fight is strategic, preparing the public for upcoming fights on all issues of public vs corporate control of public resources and decision-making.
In 96 I wrote,

Restoring the Fairness Doctrine would open up America’s “marketplace of ideas.” It would help to restore civility to our public discourse. It would help restore our democracy.

I say it is time to restore the Fairness doctrine.

m4s0n501

Restore The Fairness Doctrine!

It is time to restore the Fairness Doctrine!
How many of you have heard of the Fairness Doctrine? Public broadcasters are licensed to use OUR airwaves. It used to be that in order to be licensed they were required to serve the public interest. One part of that public interest was to present a balanced view of different political viewpoints and to cover controversial issues of public importance. This “Fairness Doctrine” requirement was intended to protect the public from the possibility of moneyed interests buying up all of the information sources, leaving the public hearing only their viewpoint.
There was also a personal attack rule, which required stations to notify people or groups who were attacked on their broadcasts and give them the opportunity to respond on the air. And, candidates were given the opportunity to respond to attacks or endorsements of opponents.
Ronald Reagan’s FCC stopped enforcing and then got rid of the Fairness Doctrine. Congress restored it but Reagan vetoed that. Under President George HW Bush Congress again restored it but it was vetoed. Then, under President Clinton the House passed it but the Republicans in the Senate blocked it with a filibuster. In the last six years Republicans controlled the House, Senate and Presidency and were quite happy with broadcasters presenting only a narrow corporate viewpoint, and allowing personal attacks to go unanswered.
It is time to restore the Fairness Doctrine!
Restoring the Fairness Doctrine would open up America’s “marketplace of ideas.” It would help to restore civility to our public discourse. It would help restore our democracy.
If the Fairness Doctrine were restored we would begin to see a variety of issues covered by the broadcast media, from a variety of perspectives. Currently we only see subjects that the corporate world is interested in, covered from a pro-corporate perspective. Imagine the effect on the country if the public were exposed to a variety of viewpoints on issues like trade, consumer protection, sustainability, unions, health care, global warming and energy, religion, the environment, nutrition, and SO MANY other issues!
Imagine the effect on our civic discourse if stations had to give time for a response to everyone that Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter smeared on the air!
It is time to restore the Fairness Doctrine!

They’re Going To Ban BuzzFlash

UpdateWE WON! Go read.

The Republicans are trying to “deregulate” the Internet. They’re about to allow the big telecommunications companies to decide which websites their customers (YOU) can and can’t see. This is what “Net Neutrality” is about. If you are against letting big companies decide what websites you can see, that means you are in favor of Net Neutrality.
MAKE NO MISTAKE about what this will mean. In the 1980s the Republicans “deregulated” radio and television by getting rid of the Fairness Doctrine and allowing a few big companies to buy up all the stations, and now you can’t turn on the radio without hearing that conservatives are good and liberals are bad. And you will not ever see a representative of organized labor on your television telling you about the benefits of joining a union. In the South the ONLY viewpoint you ever hear is the Republican Party viewpoint. MAKE NO MISTAKE about what “deregulating” the Internet will mean. It means they will ban BuzzFlash, and DailyKos, and Digby and any other voice that speaks out against the corporate takeover of your country.
Here is what you can do today. Matt Stoller has a post up at MyDD with a list of members of Congress to call TODAY. Matt says

Urge them to support the bipartisan Sensenbrenner-Conyers Net Neutrality bill (HR 5417) in the Judiciary Committee on Thursday — and to support it without amendment. Saying without amendment is key.

Here is the list:

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