Stabenow: Senate Could Hold Hearings on Fairness Doctrine

Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan told radio host Bill Press this week that she thought there needs to be more balance in broadcasting and suggested there would be hearings in the Senate during this Congress on possibly reinstating the fairness doctrine.

She was responding to the news that a liberal radio station in Washington had closed and as part of a discussion about the dwindling number of those stations in the face of the popularity of conservative talk radio.

Asked whether it was time to bring back the fairness doctrine, she said "I think it's absolutely time to pass a standard. Now, whether it's called the Fairness Standard, whether it's called something else."

She tied it to President Barack Obama's pledge of more accountability and transparency, saying "I think in this case, there needs to be some accountability and standards put in place."

Press asked her whether she could be counted on to push for hearings and she answered: "I have already had discussions with colleagues and, you know, I feel like that's gonna happen, yep."

The re-imposition of the doctrine has been of concern to Republicans and talk radio hosts after statements like Stabenow's by other legislators in the run-up to the election of a Democratic president and Congress.

A Stabenow spokesperson was not reachable for comment at press time.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.