The Fairness Doctrine Is the Internet

Radio is all up in arms because Congress is threatening to reintroduce the hated Fairness Doctrine that could stifle talk radio.

Talk radio is radio's best product right now (I'm not talking about their opinions, either). And radio is a hurtin' pup with advertising revenues being projected as declining in the year ahead.

The absence of the Fairness Doctrine allows a Rush Limbaugh or an Air America to have their say without providing equal time to opposing points of view. I understand what the Democrats are doing by threatening to bring it back, but it's all pointless.

1. The pro-Fairness Doctrine forces know they have no chance to pass legislation that would hamstring radio stations.

2. Reviving The Fairness Doctrine is a political jab to get back at the out of control right wing radio blow hards that have been getting under the skin of the Democrats since Bill Clinton served his two terms.

3. Congress has already demonstrated that they "want their talk radio" in spite of comments made by Republican Trent Lott that made a lot of his own party worry.

4. Return of The Fairness Doctrine is a moot point.

So we have political playfulness and the reality that no such return of the Fairness Doctrine is likely and yet has anyone asked the question -- who cares?

Well let me raise it.

I don't want talk radio to change a thing. Terrestrial talk radio still has a few good years left if all our good baby boomer friends can just stay alive.

When radio was the only thing, you could rationalize a Fairness Doctrine to keep the medium honest and -- well, fair. As listeners got more voices, the Doctrine became unnecessary and was rightfully retired.

Now we have the Internet.

We now have mobile communication -- phones, content, downloads.

We have online social networking.

We also have lots of channels, services and technologies and if any consumer has a problem getting access to a variety of voices they are not trying very hard.

The new "Fairness Doctrine" is the very existence of the Internet.

So, let's sit back and watch the politicians blow smoke.

And enjoy the outrage from broadcasters and Congress who will be damned if the Fairness Doctrine comes back on their watch.

Let's not protest too much.

The Fairness Doctrine is one of the many polarizing issues that terrestrial radio specializes in and builds its audience on.

The great liberator is the Internet -- the provider of endless opinion and an almost infinite number of different voices.

Terrestrial radio used to have that responsibility on another day and in another time.

Now the Internet brings democracy and allows endless voices and less chance of one or two dominating points of view.

Who needs legislation.

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