The so-called "Fairness Doctrine" found its origins in a 1949 Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulation that required broadcasters to "afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views of public importance." Facing mounting pressure from the courts, the FCC dropped the Fairness Doctrine, ushering in the current era of vibrant talk radio that has been so valuable to the public exchange of ideas.
In 1949, there were only about 3,000 broadcast radio stations across America. Today, however, with over 10,000, the media landscape in this country is much different. The marketplace of ideas has never been more diverse and competitive. Whether you are looking at a print publication, listening to the radio, or perusing the Internet, it is never a challenge to find someone expressing his or her opinion a matter of national significance.
And that's a good thing.
Unfortunately, some in Washington, D.C. appear interested in bringing the Fairness Doctrine back, presumably because they don't like the opinions they hear on the radio and the grassroots-organizing it presents. Quite simply, they want to muzzle the voice of talk radio. This is a blatant assault on the First Amendment, and as a broadcaster for over 20 years I am extremely concerned about it. The First Amendment is the underpinning of our political discourse and the underpinning of our democracy.
On June 28, 2007, Congressman Mike Pence, myself, and 109 other members of Congress introduced the Broadcaster Freedom Act to protect the First Amendment and broadcasters rights. We must pass this legislation to protect the fundamental right to free speech.
On October 17, we begain a petition to bring HR 2905 directly to the floor for an up-or-down vote on the Fairness Doctrine. We need 218 members to sign the petition before the measure can be brought to the floor.
On October 22 I addressed the House for a full hour on the importance of banishing the so-called Fairness Doctrine for good. I used the time to urge my colleagues to sign the petition to bring a vote on HR 2905 to the House floor