Skip to main content

Boehner, Conservative Groups Weigh In on Localism

The Federal Communications Commission continues to get an earful on its proposed TV localism changes, according to copies of two letters to the commission.

Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) told FCC chairman Kevin Martin in a letter Thursday that adopting the rules -- which require community content-advisory boards and giving the commission regular reports on what stations are programming in a variety of categories -- would be a "stealth enactment of the Fairness Doctrine."

That is the long-jettisoned FCC requirement that TV stations provide both sides of controversial issues of public importance. A deregulatory commission in 1987 found the doctrine unconstitutional.

"It is clear," Boehner said in a statement, "that the commission is proposing no less than a sweeping takeover by Washington bureaucrats of broadcast media."

Elsewhere on the localism pen-pal front, a group of conservative organizations including Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, the Christian Coalition and Citizens United wrote Martin to say that they were "deeply concerned" by the proposals.

"Imposing rules that would require broadcasters to provide a certain amount of programming produced locally, as well as to establish politically correct advisory boards to assist with determining programming content and to fill out all kinds of burdensome paperwork for government regulators to police, is bad public policy," they wrote.

They told Martin that only someone out of touch with broadcasters, basic free-market principles and the First Amendment would support such changes.

Martin has said that the proposals were part of the FCC’s comprehensive effort to wrap up its media-ownership-rule review, which included only loosening the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership ban, reimposing a cap on cable ownership and proposing the TV localism initiatives and enhanced disclosure.