Monday, July 2, 2007

US House Votes to Ban the Fairness Doctrine

This morning I read that the US House of Representatives voted on an amendment to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations for FY 2008 that would ban the FCC from using federal funds to bring back the Fairness Doctrine.

For those of you who don't know, the Fairness Doctrine was a FCC regulation that required broadcasters, both TV and radio, to present a balanced program on controversial issues. The regulation was applied to only TV and radio, not to print, because of the definition of the airwaves as a public resource. Having a balanced program serves the public interest and helps to ensure that voters can make informed decisions based on all the available information. Without the Fairness Doctrine, broadcasters have a license to air propaganda. Of course, the Right-wing loves that the Fairness Doctrine has been abolished because now they can dominate the airwaves with their one trick pony. It's a lot easier to gain an audience using the tactic of sensational broadcasting when the listeners aren't informed on the topic being discussed.

Of course, the NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) completely agrees with the House's decision. If it's good for business, they're in. Good for democracy? Yeah, fuck that.

But what really pisses me off about this is the House vote. Just a little more than half of the elected Democrats voted for this amendment! It's also interesting to note that the Bill which was amended did not pass, and that Republicans -- who voted in unity for the amendment -- voted in near unity against the Bill.

So, which party is looking out for the interests of an informed public? Oh wait, silly me. I forgot that having an informed public to strengthen America's rapidly deteriorating democracy isn't a part of the game plan. Way to go, Democratic majority...


Ramon said...

Well, as much as I dislike fascist talking points cropping up in the press, if there is a paradigm shift towards progressivism in this country, and it became wildly popular to air progressive and liberal points of view, the Fairness Doctrine would force us to watch right-wing hacks make stuff up on everything from Creationism to the "unverifiability" of human-caused global climate change.

Imagine Keith Olberman having to bring on Bill Kristol after doing an Iraq War piece.

That kind of initiative would be tough to regulate and I would not approve of our tax dollars going to make sure that right-wing nutjobs get a word in.

The battle lines as they stand are slowly edging in a progressive direction. Look at how MMFA was able to get Luntz off the main event, just to cite one example.

We must not federally subsidize enforced presentation of fascist talking points, thereby guaranteeing their survival when your own stated desire is to have their views fade into irrelevance and oblivion.

Ramon said...

Oh, and I do realize that at some point, Kristol has been on Keith's show, infrequently, but that's because his appearance was at Keith and his producers' specific request, as opposed to it be enforced on a regular basis on "controversial" matters, which could be anything.

illegal youth said...

The problem with your critique, though, is that there never will be a paradigm shift towards progressivism in media without something like a Fairness Doctrine. Right-wing hackery is profitable because it is easy to produce. That type of commentary feeds on the uninformed, stereotypical, prejudiced views of listeners and perpetuates those views. It's easy to produce because there isn't much thought going into it, and so, its easier to gain an audience. There are no complex issues to dissect, no complex rationales or logical frameworks to work though.

Progressive ideas are dependent upon a medium which can do them justice, and television just isn't equipped for the discussion.

And I have no problem with right-wing ideas directly next to left-wing ideas. The Right had such a problem with the Fairness Doctrine because their ideas stink. Forced to sit next to left-wing ideas, people chose the left-wing ideas almost every time. That's why the Right has fought this -- they know they can't compete because their ideas just plain suck.

So this paradigm shift won't happen unless we get good ideas back into the discussion. The problem is that media conglomerates have decided that good ideas aren't profitable, so they stuck to airing the bad ideas, which are both cheap to produce and keep eyes and ears glued to the screens and speakers across the country. The Fairness Doctrine would force good ideas back into the discussion. Put on an equal playing field, I have confidence that the good ideas will win out.

I fear no idea, not even those from the right. I say, the more discussion, the better. Without the Fairness Doctrine, those who control the production of media also control who gets a voice.

Trust me, it'll never be progressive ideas that get a voice in the current system.