Republicans Seek to Bury Regulation of Political Speech on Airwaves

Seeking to hammer the final nail in the coffin of the Fairness Doctrine, two Republican lawmakers who are former broadcasters have reintroduced a bill that would prevent the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from regulating political speech on the airwaves.

Amid calls for the reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine after the assassination attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz, last month, Reps. Mike Pence of Indiana and Greg Walden of Oregon unveiled this week the Broadcaster Freedom Act, which would ban the FCC from forcing broadcasters to give free airtime to opposing sides on controversial issues.

“The American people cherish freedom, especially freedom of speech and of the press,” said Pence, a former radio talk show host who introduced the same bill in the last session of Congress when Democrats still controlled the House.

“Bringing back the Fairness Doctrine would amount to government control over political views expressed on the public airways,” he said in a statement. “We must pass the Broadcaster Freedom Act and bury the Fairness Doctrine once and for all.”

Walden, who owned and operated radio stations with his wife for nearly 22 years, said: “The Fairness Doctrine represents an assault on the fundamental freedoms included in the First Amendment. Called the Fairness Doctrine or a code name like localism, this kind of outdated government regulation of political speech has no place in the modern broadcasting landscape.”

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