Though President-Elect Barack Obmama has said he does not favor a return of the Fairness Doctrine, at least one other Democrat apparently does. Some broadcasters and conservative groups worry that Democrats will press to bring that policy back.
On election day, New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer told Fox News it was “consistent” to use the same power of the federal government currently used to regulate broadcast indecency also to regulate the Free Speech rights of broadcasters through mechanisms like the so-called Fairness Doctrine. It required stations to air both sides of controversial issues; the commission eliminated the rule as unconstitutional in 1987.
“The very same people who don’t want the Fairness Doctrine want the FCC to limit pornography on the air,” Schumer said, according to a summary of the interview in The Hill. “I am for that … But you can’t say ‘government hands off’ in one area to a commercial enterprise but you are allowed to intervene in another. That’s not consistent.”
The National Religious Broadcasters said Schumer’s remarks “foreshadowed an intolerance of ideas.” NRB SVP/General Counsel Craig Parshall said such linkage paints a grim picture for the future of broadcasting freedoms, particularly for Christian broadcasters.