By Joseph DeCaro, BosNewsLife United States Correspondent
WASHINGTON, D.C., USA (BosNewsLife) — A high ranking American senator will force a vote next week to prevent the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from reinstating the ‘Fairness Doctrine’, amid fears it could jeopardize Christian radio and conservative talk shows.
Republican Jim DeMint, who chairs the Senate Steering Committee, said his anti-Doctrine bill would halt attempts by the FCC to “censor” opinionated programs, and suggested the White House supported his proposal, BosNewsLife learned Sunday, February 22.
“I’m glad President Barack Obama finally confirmed his opposition to the Fairness Doctrine, which attacks the right of free speech on talk radio,” explained DeMint. “But many Democrats in Congress are still pushing [the Doctrine]. With the support of the new administration, now is the time for Congress to take a stand against this kind of censorship.”
He added he wanted to push for an amendment within the next few days “so every senator is on record: Do you support free speech or do you want to silence voices you disagree with?”
The ‘Fairness Doctrine’ mandated from 1949 to 1987 that broadcasters presented contrasting views on controversial issues.
Yet, instead of bringing political diversity to the airways, the Fairness Doctrine had a “chilling effect” on broadcasting debate as many networks ceased airing controversial opinions to avoid giving opponents free airtime, critics said.
Amid mounting pressure, the FCC determined in 1985 that the Fairness Doctrine may have violated the First Amendment of the Constitution. Two years later courts ruled that the FCC was no longer obligated to enforce it as it wasn’t mandated by Congress. Soon after, Congress attempted to pass legislation restoring the Doctrine, but Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush vetoed the bills.
Leading conservative talk-show hosts and their allies in Congress have expressed concerns that the Doctrine may be revived in ” camouflaged form” to silence conservative talk radio, including Christian programs.
Although the Obama administration has denied it would pursue the Fairness Doctrine, they recalled that fellow Democrat President Bill Clinton once said: “You either ought to have the Fairness Doctrine, or we ought to have more balance on the other side.” To be continued. (BosNewsLife’s NEW WATCH is a regular look at key news developments impacting the Church and/or compassionate professionals).