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.