Barrasso: Tune out Washington
Cosponsors S.34, The Broadcaster Freedom Act of 2009
by U.S. Senator John Barrasso, Opinion Piece
February 26, 2009
Below is an opinion piece submitted by U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo), February 26, 2009:
In America, and especially in Wyoming, we are very aware of the freedoms that make this country great. As I've seen at town meetings all across Wyoming, freedom of speech is gladly exercised. If some in Washington have it their way, the airways of Wyoming will be seriously changed. Broadcasters will be forced to provide programs that the government defines as politically "fair."
America has the most diverse media markets in history. Yet, there are folks in Washington who believe that the federal government should determine what comprises a "fair" broadcast. If this effort succeeds, many of Wyoming's favorite political, religious and community broadcasts will be forced off of the air in the name of "fairness."
Since conservative talk radio has been so successful, opponents in Washington have tried to reinstate something called the Fairness Doctrine. The Fairness Doctrine was repealed over 20 years ago. It requires broadcasters to provide equal air time to contrasting views on controversial issues.
In Wyoming, we know that there is nothing fair about the government telling us what type of news coverage each story gets. This type of government intrusion may fly in China, but it has no place in America. No one knows a local community's needs and wants better than the folks who live there and the broadcasters who serve them.
Wyoming's radio and television broadcasters know very well that Wyoming listeners and viewers can change the channel whenever they want. Our freedom to change the channel is a far more efficient driver for broadcast content than any government regulation could hope to be.
Today's media marketplace is far different from that which existed in 1949 when the Fairness Doctrine was conceived. Whether it is television or radio, newspapers or the Internet, consumers today have incredible access to a wide variety of news sources. The idea that Washington should intervene to force stations in Wyoming to carry unpopular talk radio shows is absurd. It should be left to Wyoming consumers to decide what is "fair," not Washington.
The so-called Fairness Doctrine is anything but fair. It will have a chilling effect on broadcast news coverage. Whatever you call it, there is nothing fair about the government abolishing a consumer's ability to make their own choices.
To protect Wyoming's listeners and viewers from Washington know-it-alls, I am cosponsoring S.34, The Broadcaster Freedom Act of 2009. This legislation prohibits the FCC from reinstating the Fairness Doctrine. We've done fine without it for the last two decades.
There are folks who believe that Washington needs to be more involved in our personal lives. I remain committed to preserving a free, diverse, and vibrant media market that allows consumers to decide what is fair. We do not need Washington to do it for us.
U.S. Senator John Barrasso
On the budget, Senator Barrasso said in a media release, "The era of big government is back. Just last week the administration passed a trillion-dollar spending bill; this week it has proposed a budget that raises taxes and doubles the public debt over five years. In Wyoming we live within our means. Washington needs to take a lesson from Wyoming. We do need to get the American people back to work. Massive spending bills and increased taxes on small businesses is the wrong way to go. Small businesses create more than half of all new jobs in America. We must cut wasteful spending and focus on creating jobs now, not in two, five or ten years. We should not keep borrowing money that our grandchildren will have to pay back."