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Published on Aug 28, 2009
Lloyd and his co-authors rejected the idea that the Fairness Doctrine alone could solve these problems, arguing that the Doctrine must be part of a more sweeping regulatory effort aimed at curbing the influence of todays political talkers.
[T]he Fairness Doctrine was never, by itself, an effective tool to ensure fair discussion of important issues, the report stated.
The Fairness Doctrine was most effective as part of a regulatory structure that limited license terms to three years, subjected broadcasters to license challenges through comparative hearings, required notice to the local community that licenses were going to expire, and empowered the local community through a process of interviewing a variety of local leaders [about whether a stations license should be renewed], it added.
The report recommended that the government implement ownership caps, limit license terms, allow local interest groups to lobby against a broadcaster, and fine those station owners who fail to meet these requirements, with the funds going to support their public broadcasting competitors.
[A]ny effort to encourage more responsive and balanced radio programming will first require steps to increase localism and diversify radio station ownership to better meet local and community needs, the authors wrote.
We suggest three ways to accomplish this: Restore local and national caps on the ownership of commercial radio stations, the report read. Ensure greater local accountability over radio licensing. Require commercial owners who fail to abide by enforceable public interest obligations to pay a fee to support public broadcasting.
Lloyd explained these requirements in a companion piece he wrote for CAPs Web site entitled, Forget the Fairness Doctrine. There, Lloyd summed up his approach to regulating talk radio.
Equal opportunity employment policies. Local engagement. License challenges, he wrote. Explaining the fees broadcasters might face, he wrote that commercial radio station owners either play by the rules or pay. In other words, if they dont want to be subject to local criticism of how they are meeting their [new] license obligations, they should pay to support public broadcasters who will operate on behalf of the local community.