For all the talk about how the Fairness Doctrine won’t be re-indoctrinated, there sure are a lot of people talking about how nice the Fairness Doctrine would be.
Talk show host Bill Press thinks the abundance of right-wing talk shows across the dial is because of some grand conspiracy.
Why? Station owners complain they can't get good ratings or make any money with progressive talk, but that's nonsense. In Minnesota, independent owner Janet Robert has operated KTNF (950 AM) profitably for five years. In Madison, Wis., WXXM, 92.1 FM, just scored its highest ratings ever. And KPOJ in Portland, Ore., soared with progressive talk from No. 23 in market ratings to No. 1.
For years, the Fairness Doctrine prevented such abuse by requiring licensed stations to carry a mix of opinion. However, under pressure from conservatives, President Ronald Reagan's Federal Communications Commission canceled the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, insisting that in a free market, stations would automatically offer a balance in programming.
That experiment has failed. There is no free market in talk radio today, only an exclusive, tightly held, conservative media conspiracy. The few holders of broadcast licenses have made it clear they will not, on their own, serve the general public. Maybe it's time to bring back the Fairness Doctrine -- and bring competition back to talk radio in Washington and elsewhere.
Two things: A) Successful liberal talk radio in Madison and Portland? No way. B) One reason why conservative talk radio would appear to be far more popular than liberal talk radio is in the example provided by Press, himself. How is the radio-listening public to believe one has any credibility whatsoever when that person hosts a show on something called OBAMA 1260 AM in Washington D.C.? Well, they don’t. Hence, the shuttering the station’s liberal talk format mere weeks after getting started.
To date, this represents the first tanking of an Obama-branded product. It would indeed take a bunch of liberals to screw up something associated with the most recognizable and popular person on the planet, currently.
Even President Clinton chimes in:
"Well, you either ought to have the Fairness Doctrine or we ought to have more balance on the other side," Clinton said, "because essentially there's always been a lot of big money to support the right wing talk shows and let face it, you know, Rush Limbaugh is fairly entertaining even when he is saying things that I think are ridiculous...."
Mr. President, please define “big money”. Like George Soros “big” or just ad revenue “big”… derived from people who choose of their own free will to listen to Rush and Roger Hedgecock rather than Bill Press and Randi Rhodes.
(UPDATE #1): Well, well, well. Look who was on Fox News getting shredded by Megyn Kelly in a Fairness Doctrine discussion. Press’s argument revolves entirely around the concept of “public interest” as in, radio stations are not serving the public interest if they only broadcast from one side of the aisle, which of course means the conservative side in Press’s world-view. Kelly responds that the public is obviously not interested.
(Embed no worky. Please link here)
Also, the Obama administration is getting less and less definitive with respect to re-imposing the Doctrine after strongly worded campaign speech stating they had no interest in doing so. Link here to watch Presidential advisor, David Axelrod, defer a pretty simple question regarding the re-imposition of the Doctrine to the President and the FCC.
Finally, were curious if deep down inside the ratings-driven subconcious of some conservative talk show hosts, they are not secretly hoping for a reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine. Afterall, nothing makes for better radio than an aggrieved host.