Wednesday, March 12, 2008

'Fairness' unfair

George W sure nailed this one. There are few issues which are as blatantly self-serving as this one. It's like protectionism in the marketplace of ideas. What am I talking about?
Some members of Congress want to reinstate a regulation that was repealed 20 years ago. It has the Orwellian name called the Fairness Doctrine. Supporters of this regulation say we need to mandate that any discussion of so-called controversial issues on the public airwaves includes equal time for all sides. This means that many programs wanting to stay on the air would have to meet Washington’s definition of balance. Of course, for some in Washington, the only opinions that require balancing are the ones they don’t like.
Basically, it would put a government agency in charge of making sure radio had equal amounts of competing ideology on each station. We do already have something similar in the "equal time" rules -- this is very targeted in scope though. Equal time deals with paid political advertising on the air waves. If one campaign buys time, the station cannot deny the competition from buying equal time. Note: they still aren't required to have them on, but they can't DENY the opposition from PAYING for equal air time.

The fairness doctrine, however, would not only put the FCC in charge of deciding how much time a station can give to a talk show, but by extension, this would mean they have to decide what views constitute the opposition. Who knows how they would make these subjective decisions. Would it be enough for Hannity to bring Colmes on for this radio show as well? Or do people pretty much consider their gig on TV to be a conservative show? Is it fair to think of it as only two ideologies in the first place. How many other competing views would need to be fairly considered and included on any political pulpit?

It's bogus. Subjective rules like the Fairness Doctrine would always end up being decided in the courts -- something we don't need.


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