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Argument: Fairness Doctrine rightly regulates free speech on public airwaves

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Supporting quotations

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said in 2008, "These are public airwaves and the public should be entitled to a fair presentation."[1]


Rep. Luther Johnson (D.-Texas), in the debate that preceded the Radio Act of 1927. 16 Jan. 2003 - "American thought and American politics will be largely at the mercy of those who operate these stations, for publicity is the most powerful weapon that can be wielded in a republic. And when such a weapon is placed in the hands of one person, or a single selfish group is permitted to either tacitly or otherwise acquire ownership or dominate these broadcasting stations throughout the country, then woe be to those who dare to differ with them. It will be impossible to compete with them in reaching the ears of the American people."[2]


Senate Rules Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) last year said, "I believe very strongly that the airwaves are public and people use these airwaves for profit. But there is a responsibility to see that both sides and not just one side of the big public questions of debate of the day are aired and are aired with some modicum of fairness."[3]


"Broadcasting, reintroducing the Fairness Doctrine". Debatabase. 27 Aug. 2008 - The Fairness Doctrine is reasonable because airwaves are a public good and belong to the people through their government. If there were a free for all, allowing anyone to broadcast on any frequency they choose, then signals would interfere with each other and prevent vital police, emergency and military communications from operating effectively. Radio and television frequencies are therefore not owned by broadcasting companies but only licensed to them by the state. Given that many more people would like to broadcast than there is radio spectrum available for them, the state has to choose who should get a license. So it is fair for the state to apply conditions to these licenses, including the requirement that they offer balanced access to a range of viewpoints. This makes public broadcasting different from cable, where the companies actually own the means of distributing their content and should therefore be allowed to do what they like with it.

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