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Old 08-14-2008, 06:01 PM   #1
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47% Support Government Mandated Political Balance In Radio, TV

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Nearly half of Americans (47%) believe the government should require all radio and television stations to offer equal amounts of conservative and liberal political commentary, but they draw the line at imposing that same requirement on the Internet. Thirty-nine percent (39%) say leave radio and TV alone, too.

At the same time, 71% say it is already possible for just about any political view to be heard in today’s media, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Twenty percent (20%) do not agree.

Fifty-seven percent (57%) say the government should not require websites and blog sites that offer political commentary to present opposing viewpoints. But 31% believe the Internet sites should be forced to balance their commentary
Rasmussen Reports: The most comprehensive public opinion coverage ever provided for a presidential election.

I find these statistics disturbing, even if they aren't over 50%. It sounds like a lot of Americans are all for government control of the media. Yes, the media should be unbiased and neutral when it comes to politics. But don't these people realize that allowing the government to control what goes on the air means that it could lead to government censorship of certain stories - which violates freedom of the press.

This survey should've gone deeper into who they were surveying. Meaning, they should've asked what were the political beliefs of those surveyed. Because as someone who works in broadcasting, I'm not happy with this survey.
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Old 08-14-2008, 06:05 PM   #2
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Pearl, I find your lack of faith disturbing.
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Old 08-14-2008, 06:21 PM   #3
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Who's going to determine what's conservative and what's liberal?

If conservatives were in charge some science would be too liberal for them...

47% of Americans are dumb.
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Old 08-14-2008, 06:44 PM   #4
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Actually, this existed in the U.S. until 1987, and it was called the Fairness Doctrine.

Fairness Doctrine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The Fairness Doctrine was introduced in the U.S. in 1949 (Report on Editorializing by Broadcast Licensees, 13 F.C.C. 1246 [1949]). The doctrine remained a matter of general policy, and was applied on a case-by-case basis until 1967, when certain provisions of the doctrine were incorporated into FCC regulations. It did not require equal time for opposing views, but required that contrasting viewpoints be presented. The Fairness Doctrine had two basic elements: It required broadcasters to devote some of their airtime to discussing controversial matters of public interest, and to air contrasting views regarding those matters. Stations were given wide latitude as to how to provide contrasting views: It could be done through news segments, public affairs shows or editorials.

...

In August 1987, the FCC abolished the doctrine by a 4-0 vote, in the Syracuse Peace Council decision. The FCC stated, "the intrusion by government into the content of programming occasioned by the enforcement of [the Fairness Doctrine] restricts the journalistic freedom of broadcasters ... [and] actually inhibits the presentation of controversial issues of public importance to the detriment of the public and the degradation of the editorial prerogative of broadcast journalists," and suggested that, due to the many media voices in the marketplace, the doctrine be deemed unconstitutional.

...

In June 1987, Congress had attempted to preempt the FCC decision and codify the Fairness Doctrine (S. 742, 100th Cong., 1st Sess. (1987)), but the legislation was vetoed by President Ronald Reagan. Another attempt to revive the doctrine in 1991 ran out of steam when President George H.W. Bush threatened another veto.
The fall of the Fairness Doctrine coincided with the rise of conservative AM talk radio and its trademark inflammatory rhetoric, and I'd say that the tone of discourse has completely collapsed across the board since then. It has been argued that that has been the ultimate legacy since its fall: mass media that is "balanced" in name only.
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Old 08-14-2008, 06:46 PM   #5
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I think it was Romania where recently the government made it into law that the media has to have 50 percent of good and bad news.
They pulled the law soon thereafter because they were told how stupid that law was and more importantly, the EU said they gamble with their application for full membership.

News should be balanced, but you can't enforce it by law.
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Old 08-14-2008, 07:10 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Vincent Vega View Post
News should be balanced, but you can't enforce it by law.
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It did not require equal time for opposing views, but required that contrasting viewpoints be presented.
The thing is, you could easily spout whatever you wanted. However, let's say that Rush Limbaugh said a bunch of nasty stuff about Obama on the public airwaves. The Fairness Doctrine would then say, I believe, that if the Obama campaign wanted time to argue its case, then the program would have to oblige and give him time. Likewise, the same would go for Keith Olbermann if he said a bunch of nasty things about Bush or Bill O'Reilly; if either wanted to press their case, they would be required to give them time.

The question of freedom of speech is also burdened with the equivalent question regarding the original mission statement of broadcasting to serve in the public interest, of which the FCC is supposed to be the guardian. The unfortunate fact is that the FCC has become little more than a place for religious conservatives to push for censorship, but when it comes to incendiary rhetoric, we're often left to trust the public to discern what is true and what is not. And, frankly, considering the large number of Americans who think Obama is a Muslim or that Bush fabricated 9/11, I'm not sure that the public is equipped to sift through the crap that's blasted our way daily from the media.
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Old 08-14-2008, 07:27 PM   #7
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It's law here for any media source to print, broadcast or whatever a reply if they verifiably didn't tell the truth or misrepresented a case, so that would be similar to the Fairness Doctrine I would guess.
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Old 08-14-2008, 11:28 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Dalton View Post
Pearl, I find your lack of faith disturbing.
What is that supposed to mean?
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Old 08-17-2008, 09:30 AM   #9
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'Balance'. What is this 'balance'? Tell some lies to balance out some facts? On the one hand, guys, but then again, on the other hand? The media's responsibility is not to be 'balanced'. It is to sift the crap from the cream. Because it is not good enough to say there are two sides to the story. Sometimes there are ten sides. Everyone is not equally right.

I am so sick and tired of hearing about balance. It may be that the only route is to have a field of robust and partisan outlets (I used the vague term deliberately as I cannot see newspapers surviving the next twenty years intact) of various political hues... with the important caveat that they be branded as such. It's the partisanship dressed up as officialdom that is dodgy.
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Old 08-17-2008, 11:19 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Kieran McConville View Post
'Balance'. What is this 'balance'? Tell some lies to balance out some facts? On the one hand, guys, but then again, on the other hand? The media's responsibility is not to be 'balanced'. It is to sift the crap from the cream. Because it is not good enough to say there are two sides to the story. Sometimes there are ten sides. Everyone is not equally right.

I am so sick and tired of hearing about balance. It may be that the only route is to have a field of robust and partisan outlets (I used the vague term deliberately as I cannot see newspapers surviving the next twenty years intact) of various political hues... with the important caveat that they be branded as such. It's the partisanship dressed up as officialdom that is dodgy.
Frankly, I think much of this type of cynicism in the U.S. has everything to do with the media climate that has occurred since the collapse of the Fairness Doctrine. Without the threat of your subject demanding airtime to state his side of the story, what incentive is there to not air rumors or hearsay, or, for that matter, populist rabble disguised as "truth"?

Again, this old FCC policy did not censor, and the proof is in the history. Which media would you trust more? The Woodward and Bernstein-era media that uncovered Watergate and reported on the Vietnam War in graphic detail? Or the media today that reports on sightings of Britney's vagina and interviews Bush with softball questions, out of fear that they'll be the "only network" that loses access to the White House?

You're right, though. "Balance" has become nothing but a farce today, in a manner that only an army of Harvard business MBAs could make useless, but it wasn't always that way.
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