NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Conservative attorney Jay Sekulow hosted a television program during the 1980s under the watchful eye of the now-extinct Fairness Doctrine, and he doesn't want to go back.
Every program had to be divided equally when discussing controversial issues.
"I had representatives from [People for the] American Way, the ACLU, National Organization for Women on the broadcast -- which, if you're doing a Hannity & Colmes type of [program], it would be one thing, but we really weren't trying to do that," said Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice. "We were trying to do more of an educational [program]."
"Religious stations would be targets of complaints [if the Fairness Doctrine was re-implemented], and you would see a lot of them heading for the hills."
-- Attorney Larry Secrest
Sekulow made his comments Feb. 9 during a panel discussion with other conservative leaders at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention. The NRB -- an association of mostly conservative Christian radio and television communicators -- was meeting for the first time since President Obama took office and Democrats strengthened their legislative majorities. It also was the first meeting in years in which the re-implementation of the Fairness Doctrine -- or a similar regulation under a different name -- seemed a real possibility. In recent weeks several Democratic senators, including Tom Harkin of Iowa and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, have expressed interested in bring the Fairness Doctrine back.
Repealed by the FCC in 1987, the Fairness Doctrine required broadcasters to give equal time to both sides of a controversial issue. In repealing the rule, the FCC said at the time that instead of encouraging stations to present both sides of issues, the Fairness Doctrine had led those stations to avoid controversial issues altogether.
Conservative talk show host Sean Hannity has made the Fairness Doctrine a target on his broadcasts, and his website has a picture of Stabenow, along with her Washington office phone number. Hannity repeatedly has said he won't let the government force him to change his program. Read More