Senate Backs Amendment to Prevent 'Fairness Doctrine' Revival

Published February 26, 2009

| FoxNews.com

The Senate approved an amendment Thursday that would outlaw the so-called "Fairness Doctrine," an off-the-books policy that once required broadcasters to air opposing viewpoints on controversial issues. 

Republican Sen. Jim DeMint's amendment passed by a wide margin of 87-to-11. The South Carolina senator had attached his proposal, called the Broadcaster Freedom Act, to a bill to give the District of Columbia a voting representative in the House. 

It's unclear whether the amendment will survive as Congress debates the voting rights bill. But the measure served to effectively put the Senate on record as opposing a revival of the Fairness Doctrine. 

However, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin also won approval for an alternate amendment that would order the Federal Communications Commission to encourage radio ownership "diversity." 

A DeMint aide said Durbin's measure will "impose the Fairness Doctrine through the back door by trying to break up radio ownership." 

The aide called the Durbin proposal "an attempt to break up companies like Clear Channel and hurt their syndications and therefore putting many local radio stations out of business that depend on those syndicated shows for revenue." 

The measure passed by a vote of 57-to-41.

The media control doctrine is a policy created decades ago but abolished in the late 1980s that required broadcasters to provide opposing views on controversial issues of public importance.

Though President Obama remains opposed to any effort to renew it and the Federal Communications Commission claims it is not in any talks to revive the policy, a few Democrats have voiced strong support for the media control policy in recent weeks. Republicans like DeMint in turn pushed legislation to forestall any move to bring back the doctrine. 

"We need to make it a law that the FCC or this Congress cannot implement any aspect of the Fairness Doctrine," DeMint said. 

FOX News' Trish Turner and Brian Wilson contributed to this report. 

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