Washington, DC - Jan 8, 2009 - The Broadcaster Freedom Act outlines legislation that would bar the reactivation of the Fairness Doctrine. Two versions of the bill have been introduced. Senate version S. 34 of the bill was introduced Jan. 7, 2009, by Senators Jim DeMint (R-SC) and John Thune (R-SC). The bill in the House of Representatives (H.R. 226) is sponsored by Representatives Mike Pence (R-IN) and Greg Walden (R-OR).
The Fairness Doctrine, first implemented in the 1940s, required broadcasters to air contrasting viewpoints on controversial issues of public importance. It was eliminated in 1987 after the Federal Communications Commission found it had a "chilling effect" on free speech.
The NAB has opposed reinstating the Fairness Doctrine. Dennis Warton, NAB Executive Vice President, notes that without the requirement, there has been an "absolute explosion in alternative media outlets, providing a rich diversity of viewpoints from all sides of the political spectrum."