House panel moves shield forward


32 states and the District of Columbia have laws on the books which protect the right of a reporter to in turn protect the identity of a confidential source. If the full House, the Senate and President Bush go along with the House Judiciary Committee, so will the United States. The Free Flow of Information Act of 2007 passed on voice vote with bipartisan support led by Rick Boucher (D-VA), John Conyers (D-MI), Mike Pence (R-IN), Howard Coble (R-NC), Greg Walden (R-OR) and John Yarmuth (D-KY) in the House.  A similar bill is being shepherded through the Senate by Richard Lugar (R-IN), Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Pete Domenici (R-NM).

NAB's Dennis Wharton commented, "Broadcasters take great pride in providing listeners and viewers with critical information that at times carries significant risk to both reporters and their sources. We look forward to quick action from the full House and with companion legislation in the Senate."

SmartMedia observation: The Senate may indeed second the House on this one, but the bill is likely to run into opposition from the Department of Justice and the White House. Without a signature from the Executive Mansion, the shield may be waiting around until there is a new occupant in 2009. However, legislators have continued to push for this over the past few years, and we expect they will keep on pushing until all of the necessary approval points align in its favor.