Fairness Doctrine Version 2.0

We've all heard about the possibility of the federal government getting involved in controlling the airwaves and dictating exactly what kind of speech can be broadcast and to exactly what degree, by way of the Fairness Doctrine. To the greatest degree, most of the press has been given to this movement's efforts to regulate the airwaves on television and the radio to ensure that 'equal time' is given to 'both sides' of every issue.

But, as is pointed out by Jeff Poor of The Business & Media Institute, those efforts to dictate content could even go so far as controlling the messages embodied within websites of various causes, as well!

There’s a huge concern among conservative talk radio hosts that reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine would all-but destroy the industry due to equal time constraints. But speech limits might not stop at radio. They could even be extended to include the Internet and “government dictating content policy.”

FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell raised that as a possibility after talking with bloggers at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. McDowell spoke about a recent FCC vote to bar Comcast from engaging in certain Internet practices – expanding the federal agency’s oversight of Internet networks.

The commissioner, a 2006 President Bush appointee, told the Business & Media Institute the Fairness Doctrine could be intertwined with the net neutrality battle. The result might end with the government regulating content on the Web, he warned. McDowell, who was against reprimanding Comcast, said the net neutrality effort could win the support of “a few isolated conservatives” who may not fully realize the long-term effects of government regulation.

The Christian Coalition of America has been on the front lines for quite some time waging the battle on behalf of net neutrality. As Robert McDowell pointed out, this movement to enforce the "Fairness Doctrine" is closely tied in with the efforts by some to enable the federal government to regulate the internet, as well, in opposition to our defense of net neutrality.

Can you imagine those who support infanticide, gay marriage, or religious persecution being given the governmentally granted 'right' to utilize the resources of The Christian Coalition to work on behalf of those sorts of beliefs? Think about the implications of those who support Gay Marriage, backed by the enforcement of federal agents, having the ability to tell The Christian Coalition of America that they are to be allowed to use CC.org as a platform to work on behalf of their liberal agenda!

Jeff Poor's column continues:

“I think the fear is that somehow large corporations will censor their content, their points of view, right,” McDowell said. “I think the bigger concern for them should be if you have government dictating content policy, which by the way would have a big First Amendment problem.”

"Then, whoever is in charge of government is going to determine what is fair, under a so-called ‘Fairness Doctrine,’ which won’t be called that – it’ll be called something else,” McDowell said. “So, will Web sites, will bloggers have to give equal time or equal space on their Web site to opposing views rather than letting the marketplace of ideas determine that?”

We need to be extremely vigilant on these two issues. These two movements have been on The Christian Coalition's "radar" for a good while now. We have been fighting hard to protect our personal rights to speak on behalf of the issues we believe in; and to do so without having to provide federally-mandated "equal time" to those who may disagree with our agenda. Or, taking it even to the extreme of being forced to remove a certain amount of content of our own in order to even out the balance of our beliefs to their beliefs!

As Jeff Poor points out in his column, in citing Commissioner Robert McDowell, the battle may just be STARTING here.

McDowell told BMI the Fairness Doctrine isn’t currently on the FCC’s radar. But a new administration and Congress elected in 2008 might renew Fairness Doctrine efforts, but under another name.

“The Fairness Doctrine has not been raised at the FCC, but the importance of this election is in part – has something to do with that,” McDowell said. “So you know, this election, if it goes one way, we could see a re-imposition of the Fairness Doctrine. There is a discussion of it in Congress. I think it won’t be called the Fairness Doctrine by folks who are promoting it. I think it will be called something else and I think it’ll be intertwined into the net neutrality debate.”

A recent study by the Media Research Center’s Culture & Media Institute argues that the three main points in support of the Fairness Doctrine – scarcity of the media, corporate censorship of liberal viewpoints, and public interest – are myths.

So, what happens in the next couple of election cycles, may go a long way in determining just how much in danger we are of having our voices thoroughly stifled in the ongoing idealogical debate. Just one more factor to think about when reaching our conclusions on who is best to represent us on the federal level.

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