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Dems Want FCC to Investigate Sinclair;

Dems Want FCC to Investigate Sinclair;

The ranking Democrats on the House Commerce Committee want the FCC to look into Sinclair Television’s plans to air anti-Kerry material before the election. Reps. John Dingell of Michigan and Ed Markey of Massachusetts want the agency to determine if Sinclair is living up to its public interest obligations. Lawmakers want the commission to respond by Oct. 20.
Meanwhile, in response to Sinclair’s plans, former FCC Commissioner Gloria Tristani, now a lobbyist for the United Church of Christ, believes it’s time to bring back the Fairness Doctrine and personal attack rules.
The FCC Fairness Doctrine was in effect from 1949 to 1987; it required broadcasters to cover controversial issues in their community by offering balanced and contrasting views. The personal attack rule, in force from 1967 to 2000, gave individuals an opportunity to respond to character attacks during discussions of controversial public issues.
“While Sinclair can order its 62 television stations to air the documentary, each station holds its license as a public trustee and is obligated to serve its community of license,” Tristani said. But although media outlets and corporations have public interest obligations, nothing in current FCC rulings or policies would require Sinclair Broadcasting to give others the air time to provide a contrasting or balancing view, she added.