House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Harry Reid are being told to prove once and for all that the “Fairness Doctrine” will not be reinstated – by calling for a vote to strip the FCC of its authority to reinstitute the broadcast policy.

FCC Chairman Michael Copps insisted Thursday that people who are concerned about a return of the so-called “Fairness Doctrine” are “conspiracy theorists” and guilty of “issue mongering,” but Media Research Center President Brent Bozell isn’t buying it.

“The Fairness Doctrine is long gone and it’s not coming back,” Copps said, calling the subject a “phony issue.”

Copps said conspiracy theorists have been “lurking behind every corner,” and that he is simply calling for diversity in broadcast programming and ownership to “nurture the democratic dialog.”

But MRC’s Bozell issued a statement reminding Copps of the 15 members of Congress who recently called for its return and urging him to demand a full and fair, stand-alone vote on the Broadcaster Freedom Act, a bill that would ban the FCC from reviving the policy halted under the Reagan administration.

“I am most appreciative that my friend – FCC Chairman Michael Copps – has no intention of reinstating the anti-First Amendment so-called ‘Fairness’ Doctrine,'” Bozell said. “But his statement that those of us concerned about its reimposition are ‘issue mongering’ ‘conspiracy theorists’ is off-base given the stated desires of so many members of Congress.”

Last summer Pelosi wouldn’t allow a vote on the Broadcaster Freedom Act and instead left it languishing in committee, Bozell said. Not a single Democrat – including two who were co-sponsors of the act – would sign the bill’s discharge petition to bring it to a vote. The act was re-introduced by Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., in the House on Jan. 7 and remains in the House Energy and Commerce committee with 184 co-sponsors.

“When this many high-powered elected officials are calling for a return of the mis-named ‘Fairness’ Doctrine, and are actively opposing a vote on the bill to prevent the FCC from reinstating it, it isn’t a conspiracy theory. It’s a determination to shut down free speech on talk radio,” he said.

Bozell said the solution to the “issue mongering” is simple: Bring the Broadcaster Freedom Act to a vote.

“That way,” he said, “we will know once and for all how each member of Congress thinks – are they for free speech, or are they for the ‘Fairness’ Doctrine?”

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