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The Fairness Doctrine: Return to Balance or Play for Power?

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posted on Jul, 23 2007 @ 11:38 AM
the U.S. Federal government, as built by our Founders, was deliberately created with checks and balances that would make it very hard for any of three branches (Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary) to act without cooperation from the toehr two. It was generally assumed by the framers of the Constitution that no one single political party would gain dominance in all three branches. Many of the Founders thought it would be impossible for a single party to dominate the House, Senate, and the Presidency at the same time. They were wrong.

It's true that the Republicans came close during the period of 2000-2006, but that push for power has failed. As you read this, anotehr drive for dominion is under way. In decades past, the Democrats have also come close to the kind of supremacy that we now fear. Starting with the elections in November of 2008, they will rise to a level of power that they've never attained before. When their Presidential candidate takes office in January of 2009, that person will be in a position to crush Republican opposition as they begin a new era in big government.

One of the first things you'll see them do is ask the Congress for a vote to re-instate The Fairness Doctrine.


The Fairness Doctrine was not always a part of FCC rules; it was introduced in the context of of anti-Communist sentiment in the US in 1949 (Report on Editorializing by Broadcast Licensees, 13 F.C.C. 1246 [1949]). The Fairness Doctrine remained a matter of general policy, applied on a case by case basis until 1967 when certain provisions of the Doctrine were adopted as a rule by the FCC. [2]

In Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC, 395 U.S. 367 (1969), the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Fairness Doctrine in a case of personal attack in a broadcast, under challenges that it violated the First Amendment. Although similar laws had been deemed unconstitutional when applied to newspapers, the Court cited a Senate report (S. Rep. No. 562, 86th Cong., 1st Sess., 8-9 [1959]) that said that radio stations could be regulated in this way because of the limited nature of the public airwave spectrum.[3]

However, in 1974 in the case of Miami Herald Publishing Co. v. Tornillo (418 U.S. 241), writing for a unanimous court, Chief Justice Warren Burger wrote, "government-enforced right of access inescapably dampens the vigor and limits the variety of public debate".

No matter what you think of the Fairness Doctrine, there's one thing you need to keep in mind. One political party is about to dominate U.S. politics to a very great extent, and it's not unreasonable to expect their leadership to use this re-instated law to go after their opposition in the private sector. I'd be worried about this no matter which party came to dominate the Federal government. When abused, this law will be a license to kill and partisan Federal regulators will be happy to use it.

What does that mean for you and me? It can mean an end to free speach as you and I have known it. It can mean that free speech is whatever the politicos say it is. Expect this law to be used against radio, t.v., newspapers, and...books. Authors like myself who have dared to make certain speculations might very well be sued for sedition or arrested for any number of legal violations. ATS content might be "examined for unfriendly speech."

I'm all for letting the other side have its say, but you don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to know how this law will be mis-used once it is re-activated.

[edit: title: for accuracy, per request]

[edit on 23-7-2007 by 12m8keall2c]

[edit on 22-8-2007 by DontTreadOnMe]

posted on Jul, 23 2007 @ 11:45 AM

It's true that the Republicans came close during the period of 2000-2006, but that push for power has failed.

Well that is good news
And once agin I am here, reading and learning more! Government was never my strong point, and was always confused by the laws and text they write. Then I start to find out they do this, for the very fact people like me will bore, and not even read or try to keep up with all this! I dont mean to sound like a boot licker here Justin, but you really have made this interesting for me, and given me a chance to begin to learn about something I tried to stay away from for so many years, it just really bored me. And now I understand that was the point, and it just became very interesting now

Like a kid who is told not to touch the cookie Jar! Well now I want a cookie! And I want to see what else is in that Jar!

posted on Jul, 23 2007 @ 11:52 AM
I don't care much for the government deciding what we watch or listen to. Let the free market decide. If no one watches or listens a show or broadcast doesn't get very far.

posted on Jul, 23 2007 @ 12:05 PM
If I was able to get on t.v. and say that I didn't like pickles, or even I ranted about pickles on the radio, Federal authorities would be in a position to force the broadcaster to give equal time somebody who had the other point of view on pickles. What we face here is a legal sort of governmental bullying. Ratings wouldn't factor in.

Imagine a scenario wherein a pack of special interest groups go on a litiginous rampage against conservative talk radio. Stations that didn't carry a fifty-fifty mix of liberal and conservative would be dragged through the courts. This may sound good on the surface, but it does as you say not take in to account free market forces. If reinstated, this law would allow the government to ignore market forces in favor of whatever the regime thought was better for you...or them.

posted on Jul, 23 2007 @ 12:09 PM
Hmm so thats why Fox motto is fair and balanced? When it is clearly not.
If it wasnt for that term could Fox be taken to court over their bias media coverage of just about everything?
They say fair and balanced to cover their own butts then?
I did at one time see that as a good thing, but after looking at it threw different eyes I now start to get the picture of what is going on.
Lets say one thing, and do something totally different?
Just aslong as they say the right thing, they can in essence get away with the wrong things?

posted on Jul, 23 2007 @ 12:20 PM
The First Amendment guarantees FREE speech. There is nothing at all in the Constitution about FAIR speech. We all have our biases. I have mine, and you have yours. In the case of Fox News, they can claim anything they want. It's hard for most of us to tolerate truly free speech because somebody somewhere somehow will say something that really makes us mad. There are plenty of people on ATS who disagree with me. That's their right. I can try to be fair--and I should--but my version of fair won't always be to your liking. If the Fiarness Doctrine becomes reactivated and used as a I think it will...Fox News will be the least of your problems.

posted on Jul, 23 2007 @ 12:26 PM
Hmph. I think you stole the idea of this post from me!!!

It's cool, though.

posted on Jul, 23 2007 @ 03:11 PM
I'm glad to see that you're writing about this topic. it's important for us to understand that the rights and priviledges accorded to us under any law each come with certain unspoken strings. Freedom of speech means in part tolerance of some speech. It's the sort of thing they used to teach in civics courses. One of the reasons why I am concerned about this mis-use of this particular Federal law is that most Americans won't see this one coming until its too late.

posted on Jul, 23 2007 @ 03:34 PM

Originally posted by Justin Oldham
it's important for us to understand that the rights and priviledges accorded to us under any law each come with certain unspoken strings. Freedom of speech means in part tolerance of some speech. It's the sort of thing they used to teach in civics courses. One of the reasons why I am concerned about this mis-use of this particular Federal law is that most Americans won't see this one coming until its too late.

Once we start to understand this where do we go from there?
I always get stuck at this point, I begin to learn of things that are seemingly out of my control, yet somewhere deep down I would like to do something that helps, no matter how small it would be.
So as a newbie to most this, what would you advise us here to do?

Those who dont see it comming can sertinly do nothing. Yet those that do know still find themselfs lost as what they can really do to help.
Or is just the knowledge enough to hault them in their tracks?

posted on Jul, 23 2007 @ 03:56 PM
Once it has been re-introduced, the Fairness Doctrine (FD) will have to be challenged in court, and it will have to be challenged through Congress. the law will have to be amended to make it safer, or struck down altogether.

The good news is that you will see a lot of legal challenges from the private sector. Radio conglomerates like Sirius and Clear Channel will have their lawyers working on this problem before the law is signed in to effect by the next President. Publishers and t.v. related producers will be doing some of the same things.

The bad news is that we'll see the Justice Department filing suits against individuals and small companies that can't afford the legal fees. The DoJ will, of course, be acting under the direction of the President, who will claim that he/she is merely telling the Attorney General to enforce the law.

Let me use myself as an example here. Any publisher who picks up my work might get zapped with a legal challenge which they could nullify if they can quickly publish somebody else who says the opposite of what I say. That's not as easy as it sounds because it can take the author-publisher relationship a year to bloom before the book ever goes in to print. So, what does this hypothetical publisher do? They can cut me loose, and satisfy the DoJ that they no longer carry to give equal time to oppose "that point of view" because they aren't supporting it.

Imagine that you are the owner/operator of a small radio station. Suppose that all you do is get in front of the mike and blab for ten hours a day, and then play music for the rest of the time. Can they get you? Yes, if you're not showcasing another person to say the opposite of what you've said.

The end result is that you are forced to take a more centrist or neutral line in whatever you do that might reach people. The unintended and yet politically expedient result is that voices are silenced. In the long run, the politicians who control the levers of in have decisive majorities in the House and Senate while controlling the White House...can make 'acceptable speech' whatever they want it to be.

The real danger here is that there won't be very many legal challenges, and those that do reach the Federal courts may not succeed. Bear in mind that a lot of businesses are not going to bother with the fight. They will do the math and decide that it's easier to go along to get along. If you wanted a conspiracy, this would be it.

posted on Jul, 24 2007 @ 06:33 AM
Fairness Doctrines more like a bunch of do gooders either restricting people freedom or putting forward unworkable legislation.
For example what does an media outlet do if one group declines an invite to put there case on air ?
Will that media outlet be open to accusations of biases later on in time ?
I hate media biases and having the likes of cat walks incorporated into the six o'clock news. My answer it not to watch , listen or read to media outlets that are biased or just drag out the news for six o'clock news with stories that aren't news remote.

You can do far more with an TV remote , dial on your radio and your web browser then any government law can ever achieve.

posted on Jul, 24 2007 @ 12:54 PM
I've been waiting for at least six months to bring this matter to your attention. I've been watching it for the last few years. I can remember what the news and entertainment was like when the F.N. was in effect. In today's cable t.v. world, those guidelines would be considered a form of censorship. I expect that Federal officials will not hesitate to use this revived law as a political weapon.

Many ATS members will be quick to point out that we should rely on market forces to determine what's on the t.v. or on the book shelf. I am enclined to agree with them. Free speech is not fair speech, and that's a hard thing for a lot of people to swallow. The market place isn't always fair, either. One consumer's fair price is another's unacceptable price.

I can understand some degree of decency regulation. It would be....I think...within the Federal mandate to guard against slander and defamation. Even that can be abused if you're creative with the definitions. I strongly dislike the idea that the F.N. will be used as a political weapon.

posted on Oct, 3 2007 @ 03:35 PM

Am I wrong, but in the Fairness Doctrine doesn't it dictate that not only mass media is to be regulated, but mass communications in excess of 500 plus people? I thought that one of the most shocking things I read and could be incorrect, was that if there was a large church, school or even a protest that a speaker was giving a polarizing view. They could be forced to have that opposite view presented at the same time. Abortion activist's in church, pro and anti war speakers at the same conference. I could really turn into a gigantic cluster if something like this was to be reinstated.

posted on Oct, 16 2007 @ 01:06 AM

Imagine that ...people force fed views for which they are not intrested nor for which they are they willing to pay.

I am curious about this...nonsense...this stuff doesnt make good nonsense when you think it through to its unltimate lousy nonsense.

These people are ignorant enough to complain that they dont like what is paid for by advertisers on private stations...paid for by advertising space..not pubically subsidized stations like PBS. Yet these educated dummys in the federal government want to make private radio stations take on a format that they are not willing to pay for nor thier advertisers finance.

YOu have to go to school to get this stupid that you foist this rubbish off on the pubic as "Fairness" when it is no such thing. I like to think that ordinary people are not that dumb. This is politics. Politics has nothing to do with Fairness. Politics has to do with what is politically expedient for who ever is in power at the moment. This is also among some of us called "Whoredom." The selling of souls of and people to the body politic.
This is not a new concept or practice.

If I dont like what is on the news, television, or radio..I use my remote controller to tune it out or turn it off.

What I see in this plan, just like every "Hijacking " or "Theft " of everything government whores out . is that just like every government program it becomes very generic...inert. Dead. No one will want to pay for it anymore.

For example. Ever go into private offices where private buisnesses do buisness?? They are alive ..decorated in all kinds of methods...techniques.

Ever go into a standard issue government about Generic. Its like a xerox machine. Punch in 50 and get 50 copies of the same generic drivel. I can tell most government offices by the generic fingerprint and thier deadness ..inertness and chaos that reigns there. You know..the goofy blue government cubicles etc etc..same furniture ..standard issue. They are places like a meat packing plant...processing steadily but slowly and totally unresponsive to the public....they just process. Keep the line going.

This is what this fairness doctrine is intended to do to the communincations industry.

By the way ..most of the stations they will go after will be private corporations. They ,by this process of whoredom ,will take the private out of private communications corporations...hence by default they will be public communnications. The term for this is "Facism" Strong state control but outwardly they will appear to be private communications corporations.
It will be just one more step to ...the government owns all the

I see this same thing happeing with Health care..taking the private out of private everything but name only. Private medicine will become whored out to the body politic. Hijacked by default. And like the communications industry, I see the public not being aware of it until after it has happened and they see the generic results or fruits.

This is to me obviously intended to limit competition in the communications industry by driving out competiting ideas. Ideas that politicians and social engineers do not want promoted in the competitive arena of ideas/thought. Just like in private medicine..and also public education..they dont like the competition. They want a closed shop here.


[edit on 16-10-2007 by orangetom1999]

posted on Nov, 1 2007 @ 12:20 AM

posted on Nov, 2 2007 @ 10:47 AM
There is nothing fair about the Fairness Doctrine, it is an attempt to silence the voices of opposition in conservative talk radio. They will go after Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Lavin ect…

[edit on 2-11-2007 by JadePhoenix]

posted on Nov, 2 2007 @ 11:00 AM
A couple things here I noticed. You are making several assumptions about how this will take effect. First, you are assuming that whoever receives the Democratic nomination will win the Presidency. I find this to be a false statement right off the bat. While it may look as though Hillary is doing extremely well right now, it's still very early. Hillary has plenty of time to expose herself for the fraud that she is, especially once she is confronted with a real opponent after the primaries. I have no doubt that once the public gets a better look at her and her EXTREME left wing ideas, they will run screaming to whatever Republican nominee is elected.

Secondly, you are assuming that once the Democratic President is elected, that they will have trouble pushing the Fairness Doctrine through. This could not happen. The outrage from the general public would border on mutiny. Other than the extreme left wing nuts in Washington, most Democrats are even opposed to this legislation. It doesn't take a genius to realize what a breech of our rights the Fairness Doctrine is. It will never happen.

So, let's just sit back and let things unfold. Let not your heart be troubled.

posted on Nov, 2 2007 @ 12:27 PM
Hi Justin good to see you out and about. What comes to mind immediately for me is the President calling for a hush and gag order on for their comments a couple of weeks ago.

posted on Nov, 2 2007 @ 01:38 PM
Bring it on!!! The media has been unabashedly liberal for far too long! Don't believe me, believe the authority... Harvard study reveals media bias

So, all of you who believe that the media is predominantly conservative can read it and weep. Oh, and of note, the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy is notedly liberal entity in and of itself. SHOCKING

posted on Nov, 2 2007 @ 01:48 PM
I don't think anyone here could seriously claim that they think the majority of main stream media is largely conservative. Anyone with a single truthful bone in their body can see that virtually every major media outlet is extremely liberally biased. The only exception is FOX news, who everyone around here claims to be evil!

People kill me sometimes...


On further review of your "bring it on", I think your right. I think if people were forced to hear both sides of things at once, they would realize how remarkably stupid most liberal views are.

[edit on 2-11-2007 by nyk537]

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