Recent Press Releases

Washington, D.C. —  Senator Thune (R-SD) supported an amendment today that would protect our right to free speech and free debate on our nation's airwaves. The amendment, which was introduced by Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN), Senator Thune and others, would prohibit the FCC from reinstating the so-called "Fairness Doctrine". The amendment was defeated by a nearly party-line vote.

"Today's vote shows that we have a fight in front of us if we want to keep our airwaves free. Liberal ideologues are frustrated with talk radio and they are channeling their frustration into efforts to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine," said Senator Thune. "Our amendment would have helped preserve the vibrant marketplace of ideas we have today in our media. Our support for freedom of conscience and freedom of speech means that we must support the rights granted to even those with whom we disagree. Giving power to a few to regulate fairness in the media is a recipe for an Orwellian disaster."

On June 29, 2007, Senators Thune, Coleman, DeMint and others introduced the Broadcaster Freedom Act of 2007 (S.1748), which is identical to the amendment voted on today. The legislation would prevent the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from reinstituting the Fairness Doctrine, which would require the government to monitor political views and decide what constitutes fair political discourse. Similar legislation was also introduced by Congressman Mike Pence (R-IN) in the House of the Representatives. The House voted overwhelming (309-115) in support of the measure on June 28, 2007.

The Fairness Doctrine was implemented by the FCC in 1949 in an attempt to ensure balanced and fair coverage of controversial subject matter by broadcasters. In 1985, the FCC determined that the Fairness Doctrine was no longer necessary due to the emergence of a "multiplicity of voices in the marketplace." The FCC was also of the view that the Fairness Doctrine may have violated the First Amendment. In a 1987 case, the courts declared that the doctrine was not mandated by Congress and the FCC did not have to continue to enforce it. Twice, Congress has passed legislation restoring the Fairness Doctrine, but Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush vetoed the bills.