Monday marked the twenty-second anniversary of the F.C.C.'s abolishment of the Fairness Doctrine, but today the potential for a return to government broadcast censorship is still alive and well. After a recent series of procedures in Congress two weeks ago, Democrats managed to keep the threat alive by killing an amendment seeking to prohibit Congress from funding either the Fairness Doctrine or its Trojan Horse –a series of regulations that have the same chilling effect on free speech.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi twice blocked a vote on an amendment protecting free speech for broadcasters. The Broadcaster Freedom Amendment proposed by congressmen Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Mike Pence (R-Ind.) sought to prohibit Congress from funding the Fairness Doctrine and part of its Trojan Horse, broadcast localism regulations. When the Reagan administration abolished the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, it did so on the basis that it was unconstitutional and no longer served the public interest. If the FCC were to re-institute the Fairness Doctrine - or more likely its Trojan Horse - the result would be the destruction of Conservative and Christian talk radio.
Speaker Pelosi used special House rules to block the Walden-Pence Broadcaster Freedom Amendment from an up-or-down vote. According to Rep. Pence, “If [this amendment] is brought to the floor of this Congress, it will surely pass; because every time freedom gets an up-or-down vote in the People's House, freedom always wins.”