Brian C. Anderson has a piece in Investor’s Business Daily warning members of the conservative media to brace themselves. He says that if Democrats wind up in control of both Congress and the White House, there may be changes in store, particularly in the world of talk radio.
Anderson cited pushback that has come from the campaign of Barack Obama to television and radio ads from NRA, 527 group the American Issues Project, and a radio talker in Chicago as evidence of a tougher climate; and worries that there may be an attempt to revive the Fairness Doctrine. He said it’s true that Obama has indicated he does not support such a move, but imagines he’d sign onto a bill doing so if presented one by a Democratic Congress.
Anderson also cites Obama’s support for increased government meddling in broadcast operations. “Obama does say he wants to tighten media ownership regulations and expand the public interest duties of broadcasters, including by imposing greater "local accountability" on them — that is, forcing stations to carry more local programming, even if the public isn’t demanding it (which it isn’t).”
RBR/TVBR observation: We expect another round of review from the Federal Election Committee once the elections are over, as happened last time, when looking at the political activities of interest groups and particularly, of 527s. The role of 527s was a big question mark/loophole in 2004, and the gears of the FEC, just like at the FCC, do not support high-speed reaction – the situation must be studied and staff recommendations made; time must be made for public notification, comment, reply; meetings have to be held – by the time the FEC got around to doing anything, the election was long over. It did decide that many of the 527s active in 2004 were behaving just like political action committees and some received hefty belated fines.
In this environment, candidates from both parties are pushing back against advertising they don’t like.
As for the Fairness Doctrine, as we’ve noted before, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) has done the most talking about this – we simply have not heard much about it from the other side of the aisle. A bill addressing the issue was introduced by Louise Slaughter (D-NY), we believe, back in 2005 and gone absolutely nowhere. We’ve heard Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) bring it up, but his caucus hasn’t exactly been lining up behind him. We don’t know whether there’s a movement underfoot under the radar, but so far there doesn’t seem to be any overt attempt to revive the Doctrine under way.
Of course, that could change, but we suspect the courts might help broadcasters out if the measure ever does make it back into the law books.