< Back to H.R. 1985 (103rd Congress, 1993–1994)

Text of the Fairness in Broadcasting Act of 1993

This bill was introduced on May 5, 1993, in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted. The text of the bill below is as of Jan 27, 1994 (Introduced).

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103d CONGRESS
  2d Session
                                H. R. 1985

To clarify the congressional intent concerning, and to codify, certain 
    requirements of the Communications Act of 1934 that ensure that 
   broadcasters afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of 
           conflicting views on issues of public importance.


_______________________________________________________________________


                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                              May 5, 1993

   Mr. Hefner (for himself, Mrs. Mink, Mr. Filner, Mr. Durbin, Mrs. 
   Unsoeld, Mr. Clay, Ms. Slaughter, and Mr. Tanner) introduced the 
   following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Energy and 
                                Commerce

                           September 7, 1993

    Additional sponsors: Mr. Bonior, Mr. Richardson, Mr. Wise, Mr. 
  Lancaster, Ms. Furse, Mr. Schumer, Mr. Abercrombie, Ms. Kaptur, Mr. 
Hinchey, Mr. McDermott, Mr. Traficant, Mrs. Schroeder, Mr. Bryant, Mr. 
 Torres, Mr. Waxman, Mr. Derrick, Mr. Hastings, Mr. Rangel, Mr. Frost, 
                Ms. Eshoo, Mr. Glickman, and Mr. Hamburg

                            January 27, 1994

 Additional sponsors: Mr. Yates, Mr. Pickett, and Mr. Johnson of South 
                                 Dakota
Deleted sponsors: Mr. McDermott (added May 12, 1993; deleted September 
 27, 1993), and Mr. Frost (added August 3, 1993; deleted September 22, 
                                 1993)

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL


 
To clarify the congressional intent concerning, and to codify, certain 
    requirements of the Communications Act of 1934 that ensure that 
   broadcasters afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of 
           conflicting views on issues of public importance.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Fairness in Broadcasting Act of 
1993''.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    The Congress finds that--
            (1) despite technological advances, the electromagnetic 
        spectrum remains a scarce and valuable public resource;
            (2) there are still substantially more people who want to 
        broadcast than there are frequencies to allocate;
            (3) a broadcast license confers the right to use a valuable 
        public resource and a broadcaster is therefore required to 
        utilize that resource as a trustee for the American people;
            (4) there is a substantial governmental interest in 
        conditioning the award or renewal of a broadcast license on the 
        requirement that the licensee assure that widest possible 
        dissemination of information from diverse and antagonistic 
        sources by presenting a reasonable opportunity for the 
        discussion of conflicting views on issues of public importance;
            (5) while new video and audio services have been proposed 
        and introduced, many have not succeeded and even those that are 
        operating reach a far smaller audience than broadcast stations;
            (6) even when and where new video and audio services are 
        available, they do not provide meaningful alternatives to 
        broadcast stations for the dissemination of news and public 
        affairs;
            (7) for more than thirty years; the Fairness Doctrine and 
        its corollaries, as developed by the Federal Communications 
        Commission on the basis of the provisions of the Communications 
        Act of 1934, have enhanced free speech by securing the 
        paramount right of the broadcast audience to robust debate on 
        issues of public importance;
            (8) because the Fairness Doctrine only requires more 
        speech, it has no chilling effect on broadcasters; and
            (9) the Fairness Doctrine (A) fairly reflects the statutory 
        obligation of broadcasters under that Act to operate in the 
        public interest, (B) was given statutory approval by the 
        Congress in making certain amendments to that Act in 1959, and 
        (C) strikes a reasonable balance among the first amendment 
        rights of the public, broadcast licensees, and speakers other 
        than owners of broadcast facilities.

SEC. 3. AMENDMENT TO THE COMMUNICATIONS ACT OF 1934.

    Section 315 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 315) is 
amended--
            (1) by redesignating subsections (a) through (d) as 
        subsections (b) through (e), respectively; and
            (2) by inserting before subsection (b) the following new 
        subsection:
    ``(a)(1) A broadcast licensee shall afford reasonable opportunity 
for the discussion of conflicting views on issues of public importance.
    ``(2) The enforcement and application of the requirement imposed by 
this subsection shall be consistent with the rules and policies of the 
Commission in effect on January 1, 1987. Such rules and policies shall 
not be construed to authorize the application of any criminal sanction 
pursuant to section 501 of this Act.''.

SEC. 4. EFFECTIVE DATE.

    This Act and the amendment to the Communications Act of 1934 added 
by this Act shall take effect upon the date of enactment of this Act.