Saturday, July 28, 2007

FCC Chair: Fairness Doctrine Not Needed
Jul 26 10:43 AM US/Eastern
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Federal Communications Commission has no intention of reinstating the Fairness Doctrine imposing a requirement of balanced coverage of issues on public airwaves, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said.

Martin, in a letter written this week to Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., and made public Thursday, said the agency found no compelling reason to revisit its 1987 decision that enforcing the federal rule was not in the public interest.

Several Democratic lawmakers suggested that Congress take another look at the doctrine after conservative radio talk show hosts aggressively attacked an immigration reform bill when it was on the Senate floor, contributing to its defeat.

Pence and other Republicans in both the House and Senate countered by introducing legislation to bar the FCC from reinstating the rule.

Under the doctrine, first instituted in the late 1940s, broadcasters could lose their licenses if they failed to give free airtime to opposing sides on controversial issues.

Martin, in his letter, said government regulation was not needed to ensure public access to a wide range of opinion. "Indeed, with the continued proliferation of additional sources of information and programming, including satellite broadcasting and the Internet, the need for the Fairness Doctrine has lessened even further since 1987," he wrote.

Pence, in a joint statement with Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., welcomed Martin's position but said Congress should still pass his legislation so that no future administration or FCC chairman could revive the doctrine without an act of Congress.