NTF Issue Paper: durbind.2003doc.  3-09.


BACKGROUND.  Senators in a 57-41 vote on February 27, 2009 adopted an amendment proposed by liberal Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.) to the D.C. House Voting Rights Act, S. 160.  The vote was strictly along party lines.  Sen. Nelson voted YES; Sen. Johanns voted NO. The Durbin proposal would allow liberals to implement their notorious and misnamed Fairness Doctrine by indirect means. This amendment requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to immediately take action to encourage and promote diversity in communications media ownership. Liberals for several years have attempted to resuscitate the Fairness Doctrine but failed because of Reagan and Bush #41 vetoes. The FCC dumped the policy in 1985, deciding that it restricted journalistic freedom and inhibited the presentation of controversial issues to the public.

NEFARIOUS INTENT.   Liberals seek to break up Clear Channel Communications, the media giant that airs The Rush Limbaugh Show, a rave among conservatives. Regulatory pressure would force Clear Channel to unload some of its 1,200 radio stations around the country. Libs want the FCC to yank broadcast station licenses that liberals believe not used in the “public interest.”  Conservative Sen. John Thune (S.D.) declared that this amendment is a new threat to talk radio and other areas of free speech.  Forcing stations to give equal time to “diversity” talk radio would cut profits and pressure radio execs to reduce conservative programming to avoid higher costs and interference from government bureaucrats.  Liberal talk radio has proved unpopular and is not profitable.  Air America, the leftist answer to Rush Limbaugh, filed for bankruptcy in 2006.  Obama FCC henchmen can interpret the Durbin regulations as they wish, which would restrict conservative free speech.  They could cancel the broadcast licenses of radio stations believed failing to meet their guidelines. The Obama FCC would then award these licenses to owners who could demonstrate a greater multicultural diversity, like ACORN or MoveOn.org.    Stations carrying conservative or Christian talk radio always would feel uneasy, never knowing when the regulators will crush their businesses.  Many would alter their formats to stay on the air.  This amendment would hurt worst the small, local radio station that depends on popular syndication for its earnings.  By making it impossible for stations to conduct their talk radio businesses, liberal censors would succeed in silencing political speech with which they disagree, the Fairness Doctrine reborn. On the same day, the Senate voted 87-11 to adopt an amendment sponsored by conservative Sen. Jim DeMint (S.C.), also attached to the D.C. bill, that would prevent the FCC from reinstating the Fairness Doctrine, but liberals in the House refuse to allow a vote on this amendment.

TAKE ACTION NOW.  Conservative and Christian talk radio thrives, because people listen, but free market equal opportunity economics matters nothing to liberals in their multicultural diversity world.  They prefer a communications world in which shows that attract listeners must share the airwaves with those shunned.  The Durbin Amendment effectively overrode the DeMint amendment.  Therefore, contact immediately your representative on Capitol Hill to force a vote on the Durbin amendment when S. 160 reaches the House, then vote NO!

Congressman Lee Terry

House of Representatives                         OMAHA

2331 Rayburn Bldg.                                        11717 Burt Str. #106

Washington, D.C. 20515                     Omaha, NE. 68154-1500

(202) 225-4155                                        397-9944

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry

House of Representatives                         LINCOLN                                         NORFOLK

1535 Longworth Bldg.                                      301 South 13 Str. #100                              125 South 4 Str. #101

Washington, D.C. 20515-2701                Lincoln, NE. 68508                           Norfolk, NE. 68701

(202) 225-4806                                        438-1598                                            379-2064

Congressman Adrian Smith                                                       SCOTTSBLUFF

House of Representatives                                                                      416 Valley View Dr. #600

503 Cannon Office Bldg.                                                         Scottsbluff, NE. 69361

Washington, D.C. 20515-2703                                                              (308) 633-6333                                                                                         

 (202) 225-6435         

Research and analysis for this issue paper done by Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom.  This material copyrighted by Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom, with express prior permission for its use by Citizens for Local Control, Cherry County Taxpayers, Dawes County Taxpayers, and other groups in the Taxpayers Freedom Network.  3-09    C