Fairness Doctrine, Part II?

Fairness scalesThe Fairness Doctrine, that pernicious former FCC rule that wrecked havoc for broadcasters decades ago by forcing them to air contrasting opinions on controversial public issues, may not be dead after all. Yes, the rule was abandoned in the 1980’s by the FCC, and recently the Commission removed the last vestige of it from the pages of the federal regulations, a mere technical correction but symbolically important. But now Congressmen Darrell Issa and Mike Quigley are using language in their letter to the Comptroller General and the General Accounting Office that some radio folks think has an eerie similarity to the old Fairness Doctrine. According to Radio Ink, the Congressmen want those federal agencies to investigate radio spots that had been run in opposition to the Performance Rights Act, a bill that would have levied a new royalty fee against radio stations that play music. In their letter to the federal investigators, the Congressmen wanted them to find out from stations whether “opposing views” were also presented in their advertising spots, a phrase harkening back to the old Fairness Doctrine regulations. According to the news article, the two Congressmen also want an investigation into the airing of broadcast spots on the issue of having FM chips placed in cell phones. Their concern, according to the news report in Radio Ink, is whether broadcasters are complying with lobbying disclosure requirements.