Hey, let's bring back the Fairness Doctrine

In fact, the only reason there’s not more competition on American airwaves is that the handful of companies that own most radio stations do everything they can to block it. In many markets — witness Philadelphia, Boston, Providence and Houston — they join in providing no outlet for progressive talk. In others, as in Washington, they limit it to a weak signal, spend zero dollars on promotion and soon pull the plug…

For years, the Fairness Doctrine prevented such abuse by requiring licensed stations to carry a mix of opinion. However, under pressure from conservatives, President Ronald Reagan’s Federal Communications Commission canceled the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, insisting that in a free market, stations would automatically offer a balance in programming.

That experiment has failed. There is no free market in talk radio today, only an exclusive, tightly held, conservative media conspiracy. The few holders of broadcast licenses have made it clear they will not, on their own, serve the general public. Maybe it’s time to bring back the Fairness Doctrine — and bring competition back to talk radio in Washington and elsewhere.