WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), speaking on the Senate Floor against liberal attempts to regulate speech, warned that a new stealth attempt by Democrats could result in radio licenses being revoked.
“Enforcement procedures for breaches of localism and diversity promotion regulations as written in the ‘Durbin Doctrine’ could very well lead to licenses being revoked by the FCC,” Senator Inhofe said today on the Senate Floor. “The revocation of broadcaster licenses is a real possibility, which at the very least will threaten the willingness of broadcasters to appeal to conservative listeners.”
The “Durbin Doctrine” requires affirmative action on the part of the FCC, stating: “the Commission shall take actions to encourage and promote diversity.” It doesn’t stipulate what actions, or to what degree, but instead leaves the enforcement mechanism up to the determination of the FCC, which will likely be emboldened by the affirmative language of the amendment.
“I find this to be extremely dangerous, and so too should everyone who tunes in to talk radio. New regulations coupled with the threat of license revocation completely undermine the free market of the broadcast industry. Certainly, there will be tremendous pressure on the broadcast media to change their formats and programming to comply with the chilling effect of threatened FCC sanctions. Americans should be outraged that the government, and that this legislative body, would intrude so deeply into their right to free speech.
Senator Inhofe’s remarks came as he joined with his colleagues to vote in favor of amendment he co-sponsored to the Omnibus Appropriations Bill (H.R. 1105). The amendment (S.Amdt.662), sponsored by Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), would prevent the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from reinstating the Fairness Doctrine, but unfortunately it failed by a vote of 47 to 50. A similar amendment was attached to the DC Voting Rights Act with broad bipartisan support last week, but could be dropped upon consideration by the U.S. House of Representatives.
“Just two weeks ago, the Senate voted by a margin of 87-11 to prevent the reinstatement of the fairness doctrine. Those who changed their vote today have shown great inconsistency on this issue. Voting against the fairness doctrine before voting for it shows that Democrats are talking out of both sides of their mouth. They never truly opposed the fairness doctrine and only voted against its reinstatement in the D.C. Voting Rights Act so that they could replace it with equally egregious diversity promotion legislation. I am pleased to stand with Senators Thune and DeMint in the efforts to protect our nation’s airwaves, and I look forward to continuing to work with them as we fight and expose new stealth threats by the left against free speech, including localism and diversity issues, in the future.”
For more information on Senator Inhofe’s work to protect Americans’ right to free speech from the stealth threat of localism, read his blog in The Hill “Localism is a Threat to Freedom of Speech.”