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Published: Wednesday, 2/25/2009

Doctrine foes protest too much

Concerning your Feb. 15 article on the Fairness Doctrine: What s wrong with being fair?

For 18 years, all during the Fairness Doctrine era, I owned and managed broadcast stations, mostly radio stations. I can never recall the Fairness Doctrine inhibiting what we put on the air. Actually, in my mind, balancing the views expressed on a station made good business sense. We wanted to reach the greatest audience possible and that seemed most likely accomplished by presenting a broad sampling of opinion.

Additionally, as your article pointed out, the doctrine was nothing more than a guideline for which there were consequences only in the most outrageous instances. Simply put, all that was needed was to make a good-faith attempt to present both sides of issues in public controversy. This is hardly an insurmountable standard if the station is operating, as it by law is required to, in the public interest, convenience, and necessity. I am unaware of any broadcast licensee that was ever sanctioned for a violation of the Fairness Doctrine.

So, for those who rail that the reinstituting the Fairness Doctrine would foreshadow an apocalypse, I would suggest they doth protest too much.

Mel Browning

Rossford

Apparently The Blade is not satisfied that the government in Toledo and Lucas County is controlled by Democrats, or, as The Blade s staff writers might call them, progressives.

The writers of the Feb. 8 article about talk radio and the Fairness Doctrine, an opinion piece masquerading as news analysis, seem determined to deprive the conservative viewpoint of the only voice it has in Toledo, AM radio. Never mind that all of the major television networks, public radio, and of course, Toledo s newspaper, are progressive. No, liberals apparently need to eradicate all traces of contrary thought.

The Blade s article is misplaced for another reason: the Fairness Doctrine, which the article implicitly endorses, is unlikely to save liberal radio.

First, it is doubtful that President Obama and Democrats in Congress will use their dwindling political capital to revive the Fairness Doctrine.

Second, even if they did so, it is certain that the doctrine would be challenged on constitutional grounds by any number of its intended targets, all of who have very deep pockets. And it is likely that such challenges would result in delay of the enforcement of the doctrine until the Supreme Court had rendered an opinion, which could take years.

Third, and most important, the Fairness Doctrine is technologically obsolete. It governed the public airways, which is the only broadcast entity the federal government has the power to regulate. Cable television and satellite radio would not be controlled by the doctrine. Since most of the conservative radio villains mentioned by The Blade already appear on satellite radio or cable television, the effect of the Fairness Doctrine in practice would be negligible at best.

Virtually every new car produced today comes equipped with satellite radio. In a few years, very few people will be listening to public airwaves.

Steve Priestap

Mio, Mich.

Editor s note: The writer is an attorney in Toledo.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Mayor Carty Finkbeiner s push to reinstitute the ill-named Fairness Doctrine is curious in light of the victory in November of everything conservative talk radio is against. Liberalism appears to be alive and well, in spite of the irritant talk radio has become to that steamroller of forces represented by ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, PBS, the New York Times, The Blade, and others, all of which figuratively displayed a banner proclaiming Mission Accomplished on Inauguration Day.

Conservative talk radio has taken up the task that was long ago abandoned by the press and the major news networks, that of being watchdog against government abuse. To somehow say that in the interest of fairness this medium should be silenced is to remove the last unfiltered voice of the people and the last check on government excess.

Dave Holt

Swan Creek Drive

After listening to Brian Wilson on WSPD radio, I have come to a few conclusions. First, I noticed that he is the happiest when he is able to call people names. That shows real intelligence. I thought that Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity were disrespectful, but Mr. Wilson takes the cake.

Second, he seems to be the smartest man in the world. Whenever a caller gives a viewpoint, it only gets on the air if Mr. Wilson agrees with the caller, and then he goes into a long dissertation that reflects his narrow views only.

Last, but not least, he proclaims to have all the answers for the many problems that face Toledo. I think that he should sell his house in Wood County, move to Toledo, and run for mayor. I m sure with all of his expertise he would be elected. After that, he could do away with all taxes and Toledo would thrive.

If he did run, perhaps he could have Maggie Thurber as his campaign treasurer. After all, she is an expert in campaign-finance laws.

Randall J. Duke

Temperance

I ve been really set back lately when just checking out the right-wing AM radio talk shows.

Far from being an avid listener, more curiously amazed than anything else, it is striking the amount of anti-Obama venom that is being spewed out on these programs. Our President, even before taking office, was accused of wanting government to control just about everything and anything by all of these talk-show hosts. It seems as if nothing Mr. Obama does will give him even the slightest chance of achieving any level of support from these far right ideologues. They remind me of a rabid pack of wolves just waiting for the slightest misstep to pounce.

What a shame, ideology before country; self-interest in order to gin up their ratings ahead of any pragmatic approach to issues and problems we face as a country.

The consistent theme of these shows is to criticize Democrats and Mr. Obama. In that spirit, may I offer a couple of criticisms of these AM talk shows and their hosts?

First, stop wrapping yourselves in the flag as if you had an exclusive grasp on it. I m a moderate liberal and I love my country too. There are a lot of us liberals who also bleed red for this country.

Second, the right wing needs to get past Ronald Reagan, as decent of a man as he was. Reagan was 30 years ago and his paradigm offers few solutions for today.

Criticize him all you want, but Mr. Obama is a forward thinker. Right wing radio needs to gear out of the past and shift into mapping the future, not just obstructing it.

Greg Jansen

Walbridge

I am surprised at the people who favor the Fairness Doctrine. I cannot believe that anyone really wants to live in a country where people cannot speak out against the government, or any thing else, for that matter.

In a free market, if you do not like what a radio station, newspaper, or television station says or reports, don t listen. Before anyone thinks it is OK to restrict political speech because they don t agree with the content, they really need to think through the ramifications.

Julie Brinkman

Chancery Road



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