Fairness Doctrine revival still alive?


That's what one industry watchdog says. Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid called the bill just passed in the House and pending before the Senate is largely symbolic and would in no way prevent reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine after the 2008 elections are in the books. This even though the bill passed the House by a 309-115 margin.

It's simple, really. The bill, sponsored by Mike Pence (R-IN), prevents the FCC from putting any cash into reinstatement of the Doctrine. In 2008. It doesn't say a word about what the FCC may do after that. Kincaid points out that a Democratic administration, backed by a Democratic Congress, with a new Democratic majority at the FCC, could very easily put the Fairness Doctrine back into effect.

Being prevented from doing so in 2008 is utterly meaningless, since Democrats will not have access to the critical White House and FCC portions of the formula any earlier. Kincaid believes the Pence effort, which Pence knew was temporary, may have had the adverse effect of giving Democratic congressmen cover, and that once the 2008 ban expires, a new Democratic FCC could reimpose it without the need for congressional action. He is calling for a more permanent legislative fix. Pence has offered such a standalone bill, the Broadcasters Freedom Act, but it's fate is still very much up in the air.

SmartMedia observation: We suspect that if Democrats are able to hold Congress and take over the White House and use this platform to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine, a serious court challenge will follow in short order. Given the current Supreme Court's decision on Wisconsin Right to Life, which favored freedom of speech over efforts to moderate the flow of special interest cash into the political process, we suspect it'll take a major makeover at that venue to Frankenstein the Fairness Doctrine back to life.