fairness doctrine

Bill O'Neill billohno@gmail.com
Thu Nov 6 18:55:40 EST 2008

Donna Halper wrote:
> That's exactly my point.  It's a myth-- usually put forth by my 
> friends on the right-- that all freedom of opinion was stifled under 
> the Fairness Doctrine.  Quite the opposite is true, as my 
> soon-to-be-released book will point out. 
I can't wait for Donna's book! Talk about a labor of love.  I suppose 
the FD won't be something that Donna & I will agree upon but that's what 
makes the world go 'round. 

While I have no doubt that the Fairness Doctrine met its goal of shaping 
broadcast stations, it is that very premise that I disagree with. The 
notion that terrestrial radio is a public device is way past its prime. 
There was no uproar when licensees were able to move there local studios 
out of town, drop local news and public affairs, drop ascertainment 
reviews (to poll the community), and were granted a free pass to choose 
to plug in a PC and let 'er rip 24/7 with voice tracked music.  Of any 

Cracking the mic and uttering political speech to which 'the people' 
affix some sort of label remains fair game?  I don't think so. Radio is 
a business, listed in the Yellow Pages under 'Advertising' not 'Opinion' 
or 'Speech'.  If liberal talk drives the numbers then liberal talk 
thrives. If it does not, it walks.  So, you can't deliver 
all-conservative but can flip to all-music as an alternative?  Are we 
comfortable with that choice?  I don't think I am being far-fetched.

The notion that licensees should tailor 'speech' to reflect an array 
cultural labels has no musical cousin; at no time do stations who focus 
on rhythmic/chr face the mandate to offer day parts with music with 
differently-crafted messages or viewpoints. Nor should they.

Methinks there is more to come on this topic.

Bill O'Neill

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