An amendment sponsored by Senator Jim DeMint passed today, the so-called Broadcaster Freedom Act, passed in the Senate 87-11. The amendment bans the Fairness Doctrine from being passed into law, which had been floated by several prominent legislators and President Clinton.
The outright rejection of the Fairness Doctrine by a dominating majority is a very good step. The downside is the passage of the amendment sponsored by Dick Durbin,which forces the FCC to examine ownership diversity and removes language in the DeMint amendment that would have prevented Fairness Doctrine-like language inserted into other bills. This amendment passed on a party line vote of 57-41.
Both of these amendments require the passage of the bill to which they’re attached, the DC Voting Rights Act, and the fairness amendment would have to survive a conference reconciling the bill to the House version. Media censorship had an important defeat today, but the debate is unfortunately still not put to rest.