February 26, 2009

Crapo Votes To Uphold Free Speech Protection

Amendment aims to stop threat to talk radio

Washington, DC - Free speech on radio stations across Idaho and the nation must be protected, says Idaho Senator Mike Crapo. That's why Crapo joined with 29 other Senators to introduce legislation to ensure broadcasters are protected against efforts to increase federal control over the airwaves as well as the content of talk radio and other programs. The legislation was approved today on a vote of 87 to 11 as an amendment to the D.C. Voting Rights Bill.

"Free speech and the right to express one's political and social beliefs is preserved by our Constitution," Crapo noted. "There are some in Congress who have discussed restoring the so-called Fairness Doctrine, which would have the government regulate speech expressed on the radio. Such actions should not be tolerated by a free society, and that is why a large group of Senators has pledged to stop any attack on free speech."

The amendment, offered today by Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina), mirrors S. 34, the Broadcaster Freedom Act, of which Crapo is an original co-sponsor. "The Federal Communications Commission issued the Fairness Doctrine in 1949 on the principle that public broadcasters had a duty to the public interest given there were so few of them at that time," Crapo said. "Airing opposing viewpoints was intended to encourage a public dialogue on controversial issues. However, broadcasters found it very difficult to ensure a perfect balance on each issue, and consequently avoided controversial topics.

"Since that time, the landscape of telecommunications has greatly changed, with an increase in television stations, radio stations, and, more significantly, the introduction and growth of the Internet. Today, the Fairness Doctrine would instigate market interference by the federal government, while failing to encompass all forms of communications, such as newspapers and the Internet," he concluded.