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Monday, March 30, 2009

Broadcast Freedom In Real Danger Again

By way of update, with the DC Voting Rights Act (S 160) stuck in committee, Sen. DeMint's Amdt 573 (Sec 10 of the Act), which would prevent the Federal Communications Committee (FCC) from reinstating the Fairness Doctrine, is in serious trouble.

Going forward, there are two problems with S 160: 1) short of a constitutional amendment, congressionally granting the District of Columbia a voting representative in the House is, most likekly, inevitably doomed--or, at least, it should be; and 2) if the bill were to pass, Sen. DeMint's amendment might well be effectively nullified by Sen. Durbin's Amdt 591 (Sec 9 of the Act) which is also included in the bill.

Sen. DeMint's amendment "denies the FCC authority to require broadcasters to present opposing viewpoints on controversial issues of public importance commonly referred to as the Fairness Doctrine."

Sen. Durbin's amendment directs the FCC to "take action to encourage and promote diversity in communication media ownership and to ensure that broadcast station licenses are used in the public interest."

When I again contacted Sen. DeMint's office today, this time the spokesperson was clearly less optimistic that Sen. Durbin's amendment would not, in fact, effectively nullify Sen. DeMint's amendment. There was also doubt about Sen. DeMint's amendment surviving joint committee scrutiny.

So, anticipating that Sen. DeMint's amendment would be altogether dropped by the House, on March 10th Senators DeMint, Inhofe and Enzi joined in support of Sen. Thune's amendment (#662) to the Omnibus Appropriations bill (HR 1105) which mirrors Sen. DeMint's original amendment in S 160, the difference being that Sen. Thune's less ambitious amendment would have denied any FCC funding intended to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine during FY 2009.

Well, it may all be moot now anyway. On a vote of 47-50, Sen. Thune's amendment failed, and, minus Sen. Thune's amendment, HR 1105 was signed into law on March 11th.

While we can still hold out hope that Sen. DeMint's Amdt 573 will survive the legislative axe, I'm not at all that optimistic.

The heavy hand of an increasingly undisguised progressive tryanny does not portend well for public talk radio, or, for that matter, very much else Americans hold dear. On too many fronts, it appears that our republic is, indeed, in retreat.