NEWS MEDIA UPDATE · WASHINGTON, D.C. · Broadcasting · July 19, 2005
Bill would restore Fairness Doctrine
July 19, 2005 · Broadcasters would be required to devote air time to all sides of controversial issues under legislation introduced Thursday by U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) to restore the “Fairness Doctrine.”
Under the proposal, broadcast licensees would be required to “afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views on issues of public importance,” a mandate the FCC would have to enforce in the same way it did when the Fairness Doctrine was still in effect before 1987.
Hinchey’s bill, called the “Media Ownership Reform Act of 2005,” would, among other things, also reduce the number of stations a company could own in a single market and invalidate the deregulation of media ownership since 2003.
The FCC repealed the Fairness Doctrine, which had originally been designed to promote diverse viewpoints, after opponents convinced the commission that it restricted freedom of the press and actually led to less discussion of controversial issues.
The language attempting to resurrect the doctrine is identical to that in the “Media Ownership Reform Act of 2004,” also sponsored by Hinchey. The measure never made it out of committee.
Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), one of 15 cosponsors of Hinchey’s 2005 bill, introduced similar legislation Feb. 1. Her “Fairness and Accountability in Broadcasting Act” would require broadcasters to “cover issues of importance to their communities in a fair manner, taking into account the diverse interests and viewpoints.” It remains in committee.
(H.R. 3302 (Media Ownership Reform Act of 2005)) — TS