What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : Equal Access to the Airwaves/Broadcast Media : A resolution to prevent the FCC from implementing the “Fairness Doctrine”, which required the holders of broadcast licenses to present controversial issues of public importance in a balanced way - - on a motion to table (kill) an appeal of a ruling that the resolution was not in order (2009 house Roll Call 573)
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A resolution to prevent the FCC from implementing the “Fairness Doctrine”, which required the holders of broadcast licenses to present controversial issues of public importance in a balanced way - - on a motion to table (kill) an appeal of a ruling that the resolution was not in order
house Roll Call 573     Jul 17, 2009
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Win

The Fairness Doctrine is a rule of the Federal Communications Commission that requires the holders of broadcast license to present, in a balanced way, controversial issues of public importance. Rep. Walden (R-OR) had offered a “privileged” resolution that would have prohibited federal funds from being used to implement the doctrine; the House is required to vote on privileged resolutions immediately. However, the Walden resolution had been ruled out of order based on a precedent that a privileged resolution could not be used to prevent the FCC from implementing a regulation. Rep Walden had appealed that ruling. This was a vote on a motion to table (kill) his appeal.

Rep. Walden, a former owner of a radio station claimed that the doctrine was developed at a time when there were comparatively few broadcasting outlets and that “(T)here are now over 10,000 nationwide radio stations,” with different agendas and philosophies . . . .”

Conservative groups argued against the doctrine, claiming that it would limit the free speech rights of broadcasting stations. Progressive supporters of the doctrine argued that it will promote the free flow of all ideas. Conservatives responded to that point by claiming that progressives support the doctrine as a way of neutralizing the impact of talk radio, which is dominated by conservative hosts.

The appeal of the ruling was tabled (killed) by a vote of 238-174 on an almost straight party line basis. All two hundred and thirty-eight “aye” votes were cast by Democrats. Four other Democrats joined one hundred and seventy Republicans and voted “nay”. As a result, the House decided not to take up a resolution aimed at preventing the FCC from implementing the “Fairness Doctrine.”

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