SPEAKER PELOSI BACKS SENATE AMENDMENT TO LIMIT FREE SPEECH
Tell Congress Oppose Government Censorship of Talk Radio
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Alert: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told CNSNews.com on Thursday that she supports an amendment to a Senate bill that would force the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to “take actions to encourage and promote diversity in communication media ownership and to ensure that broadcast station licenses are used in the public interest.”
The amendment’s language is viewed by many media experts as a means to regulate conservative talk radio, particularly popular programs such as the Rush Limbaugh Show and the Sean Hannity Show, among many others.
House Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.), a former radio broadcaster and one of Congress’ biggest opponents of the Fairness Doctrine -- an FCC regulation removed in 1987 that forced broadcasters to grant equal airtime to opposing political viewpoints -- told CNSNews.com that the amendment is a masked attempt to restore the Fairness Doctrine.
The amendment, sponsored by Senate Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and attached to a bill (S.160) that would grant Washington, D.C., a vote in the House of Representatives, was approved by the Senate last Thursday in a party line 57-41 vote.
When asked whether she supports Durbin’s amendment, Speaker Pelosi said, “Certainly, I support Mr. Durbin in most things.”
“Diversity in media ownership is very, very, important,” said Pelosi.
Minutes after the passage of the ‘Durbin amendment’ last Thursday a separate amendment that would ban the restoration of the Fairness Doctrine, which was proposed by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), was also attached to the same D.C. voting rights bill and passed by a vote of 87-11.
But Pence told CNSNews.com that Durbin’s amendment would mandate a “stealth Fairness Doctrine.”
“Its clear to me that Democrats, having failed in their frontal assault on talk radio in America through the Fairness Doctrine, are now shifting strategy to a form of regulation that is essentially the Fairness Doctrine by stealth,” Pence said. He added that he is not surprised Pelosi has endorsed Durbin’s plan.
“It should come as little surprise that Speaker Pelosi, who openly supports returning the Fairness Doctrine to the airwaves of American, would support a new version of it,” Pence told CNSNews.com.
But Durbin said last Thursday that his amendment should not be equated with the Fairness Doctrine.
"No one is suggesting that the law for the FCC says that you can give this license to a Republican and this one to a Democrat and this one to a liberal and this one to a conservative,” said Durbin at the time. “When we talk about diversity in media ownership, it relates primarily to gender, race and other characteristics of that nature."
Meanwhile, the amendment, which passed the Senate riding on the D.C. voting right’s bill, now goes to the House where Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he thinks Republicans may be able to muster the votes to stop it.
“I think as we get into the appropriations process you will see us continue our effort to make sure the Fairness Doctrine is not put back into place,” Boehner told CNSNews.com at his weekly press conference on Thursday. “And I do believe the votes are in the Congress to make sure that happens.”
The primary text of the Durbin amendment reads:
SEC.9 FCC Authorities. (a) Clarification of General Powers. – Title III of the Communications Act of 1934 is amended by inserting after section 303 (47 U.S.C. 303) the following new section:
SEC.303B. Clarification of General Powers. (a) Certain Affirmative Actions Required – The Commission shall take actions to encourage and promote diversity in communication media ownership and to ensure that broadcast station licenses are used in the public interest. …
The amendment is nearly identical to a policy position outlined by the White House that says:
“Encourage Diversity in Media Ownership: Encourage diversity in the ownership of broadcast media, promote the development of new media outlets for expression of diverse viewpoints, and clarify the public interest obligations of broadcasters who occupy the nation's spectrum.” (CNSNews.com)
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Similarly, the Center for American Progress, headed by former Obama transition leader John Podesta, published a report that called for new “localism” and “ownership diversity” regulations to balance conservative talk radio with progressive talk radio.
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