16 Congressmen Tell FCC Chairman To Stop Working On 'Fairness Doctrine 2.0'
December 11, 2013 at 4:32 AM (PT)
Sixteen members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, including Chairman FRED UPTON (R-TX) and Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology GREG WALDEN (R-OR), sent a letter to FCC Chairman TOM WHEELER on TUESDAY (12/10) asking him to stop a move by the agency to conduct a field study (the "Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs," announced on NOVEMBER 1st) that the legislators fear would lead to the restoration of the Fairness Doctrine.
"Last Congress, after more than 60 years, the FCC finally removed the 'Fairness Doctrine' from the Code of Federal Regulations," the letter, written by WALDEN, says. "Over the course of its time on the books, FCC Chairmen and Commissioners have acknowledged that it was an intrusion by the FCC into the freedoms of speech and the press that could not be supported by law. Given the widespread calls for the commission to respect the First Amendment and stay out of the editorial decisions of reporters and broadcasters, we were shocked to see that the FCC is putting itself back in the business of attempting to control the political speech of journalists. It is wrong, it is unconstitutional, and we urge you to put a stop to this most recent attempt to engage the FCC as the ‘news police.'”
Saying that the proposed design of the study "shows a startling disregard for not only the bedrock constitutional principles that prevent government intrusion into the press and other news media, but also for the lessons learned by the Commission's experience with the Fairness Doctrine," the group alleges that the goal of the study is "Fairness Doctrine 2.0." “The commission has no business probing the news media’s editorial judgment and expertise, nor does it have any business in prescribing a set diet of ‘critical information,’" reads the letter. "These goals are plainly inappropriate and are at bottom an incursion by the government into the constitutionally protected operations of the professional news media.” The letter also charges that the Commission has failed to state an adequate statutory basis for doing the study.