24 Jul 2007 Hispanic Group Calls for New “Fairness Doctrine”; Blacks Support Free Market
Black and Hispanic organizations appear to be lining up on different sides of the Fairness Doctrine debate.
Domingo Garcia, the national co-chairman of the civil rights commission of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), announced at the group’s annual convention last week that he has asked U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to introduce legislation to re-regulate broadcasters through the “Fairness Doctrine.”
But Mychal Massie, chairman of the black leadership network Project 21, says the Fairness Doctrine is harmful because it substitutes government influences for popular expression in what should be a free market of ideas.
“During the recent immigration debate, it was the American people speaking through talk radio who made our lawmakers heed their constituents when it seemed they might stray from their elected duty,” said Project 21 chairman Mychal Massie, a former talk radio host. “By imposing the Fairness Doctrine, a clear message such as this would be unnecessarily diluted. Then again, that is the likely intention of the Fairness Doctrine’s proponents.”
Despite Congress voting to oppose reinstituting the Fairness Doctrine in June by an overwhelming vote of 309 to 115, Representative Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) intends to re-introduce legislation “to restore the Fairness Doctrine” in coming weeks.
Introduced in 1949 when there were relatively few broadcast outlets, the Fairness Doctrine was administered by the Federal Communications Commission to ensure that no single political viewpoint dominated the airwaves. In 1985, the FCC determined that “a multiplicity of voices in the marketplace assured diversity of opinion” and the Fairness Doctrine was no longer achieving its intended goals and was possibly creating a “chilling effect” on free speech. The FCC rescinded the Fairness Doctrine in 1987.
Recently, liberal lawmakers and their special interest supporters have raised the possibility of reinstituting the Fairness Doctrine because there are more conservative talk shows than liberal ones among profit-driven radio stations. FCC chairman Kevin Martin has publicly opposed bringing the Fairness Doctrine back, telling Broadcasting and Cable magazine that the absence of it “has made a lot of opportunities like talk radio.” President Bush has made it known he would veto any legislation that seeks to reimpose the Fairness Doctrine.
Project 21’s Massie added: “With Hispanic media outlets such as Telemundo and Univision carried on almost every cable system and strong ratings for Hispanic radio stations nationwide, along with unprecedented media choices through television, radio and the Internet, it is disingenuous in this day and age to say there is no way to voice an opinion. The Fairness Doctrine is just a tool for people to force their ideas where they are not popular. Would Telemundo and Univision like to be forced to broadcast in English because a large cross-section of Americans do not speak Spanish?”
Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11 or [email protected], or visit Project 21’s website at http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html.