Saturday, June 30, 2007

Your ability to speak out may become limited.

As reported by Citizenlink.org this week:

There have been persistent indications that liberals in Congress want to take legislative action to stifle conservative talk radio.

One suggested route would be to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine on radio and TV stations. It would demand that when programs express a particular point of view, stations would have to seek out an opposing point of view.

For example, if a station aired a conservative talk show or a Focus on the Family broadcast that offers opinions on what Congress is doing, it would have to find and air someone to present an opposing point of view. Historically, when the Fairness Doctrine was in effect, many stations chose to avoid issues programming altogether. That means many popular conservative talk radio shows would simply vanish, and many Christian radio stations would face the choice of either dropping issues-oriented programming or giving up airtime to groups such as Planned Parenthood and the ACLU.

"There is nothing fair about the Fairness Doctrine," one lawmaker said this week. "Bringing back the Fairness Doctrine would amount to government control over political views expressed on the public airwaves. It is a dangerous proposal to suggest the government should be in the business of rationing free speech."

Family Research Council adds:

Issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1949 and repealed in 1985, the Fairness Doctrine ordered broadcasters to give equal time to both sides of controversial issue. Rather than risk enforcement actions and wade through bureaucratic red tape, many broadcasters opted to air non-controversial material, which essentially killed healthy debate and discussion.

To preempt liberals from resurrecting the Fairness Doctrine, Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) has introduced the "Broadcaster Freedom Act." The bill strips the FCC of its authority to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine, effectively codifying the status quo and protecting free speech.

In Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville distinguished democracy from socialism very succinctly when he said, "Democracy extends the sphere of individual freedom, socialism restricts it... Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude." If the left wants equal time to express its views on the radio or television, they have the liberty to do so by starting their own programs and shows. In fact, in the larger media world including broadcast TV, public broadcasting, and print, the left predominates. The challenge for them is getting people to listen. To seek parity in talk radio by restraining the freedom of others is neither free, nor equal, nor fair.

Citizenlink.org urges Christians to take action:

Please call your U.S. representative immediately and ask him or her to reject any attempt to bring back the so-called Fairness Doctrine and to support the Pence Amendment and the Broadcasters Freedom Act. You can find contact information for your representative in the CitizenLink Action Center .

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