Friday, July 11, 2008

Future of Christian Radio at Risk

The Fairness Doctrine was a regulation issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that required broadcast licensees to present issues deemed controversial in a fair and balanced manner. In 1987, the Doctrine was abolished by the FCC because "intrusion by government into the content of programming occasioned by the enforcement of the Fairness Doctrine restricts the journalistic freedom of broadcasters . . . and actually inhibits the presentation of controversial issues of public importance to the detriment of the public and the degradation of the editorial prerogative of broadcast journalists."

Since 1987, several attempts have been made by Congress to restore the Fairness Doctrine; however, a presidential veto or threat thereof, has thwarted these efforts. As early as last year, over 300 Democrats and Republicans actually stood together to oppose further efforts to revitalize this harmful doctrine. As a result, Congressman Mike Pence (R-IN) introduced the Broadcaster Freedom Act (H.R. 2905) on June 28, 2007, to ensure that no future president could bring back the Fairness Doctrine without an act of Congress.

Currently, the bill has 207 co-sponsors and has been before the House Committee on Energy, Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, since October 3, 2007. Congressman Pence filed a discharge petition on October 17, 2007 to bring the Act to the House floor without a Committee report. A discharge petition requires 218 signatures, and as of July 10, 2008, 201 signatures have been collected.

On June 24, 2008, Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi told a meeting a the Christian Science Monitor that the Broadcaster Freedom Act would not receive a vote because "the interest of my caucus is the reverse." In response, Congressman Pence said, "so far, not one single House Democrat has signed our petition for an up-or-down vote on broadcast freedom . . . and now we know why."

Please contact your Representative and request that he or she sign this discharge petition and allow of the Broadcaster Freedom Act to go to the House floor for a vote. A complete list of the members of the United State House of Representatives can be found at http://www.house.gov.