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Reviving the Fairness Doctrine?

In the midst of the IRS targeting scandal this week, a revelation from Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk Action suggests the spirit of the Fairness Doctrine may not be laid to rest just yet. 

Family Talk Action asserted that after it submitted sample radio programs to the IRS, an IRS agent insinuated the ministry would be denied tax-exempt status:

“Ms. Medley responded… Family Talk Action is ‘not educational’ because it does not present all views. She continued, saying that Family Talk Action sounded like a ‘partisan right-wing group’ because, according to Ms. Medley, it only presents conservative viewpoints. She then added, ‘you're political’ because you ‘criticized President Obama, who was a candidate.’”

NRB President & CEO Dr. Frank Wright declared, “I am alarmed by reports that suggest a federal official at the IRS instituting a de facto Fairness Doctrine. The FCC was right to purge that pernicious policy from the Code of Federal Regulations. After driving a wooden stake in its heart, this vampire seems alive and well at the IRS.”

The Fairness Doctrine, first introduced in 1949, enabled the FCC to compel broadcasters to air opposing viewpoints on controversial issues deemed to be of public importance. The Fairness Doctrine, while not enforced since 1987, was finally and completely eliminated from the Code of Federal Regulations in August 2011.

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: May 17, 2013

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