Friday, January 07, 2005



Washington, DC. Today, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, Ranking Member of the House Rules Committee and long-time advocate for the reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine, sent a letter to David D. Smith, Chief Executive of the Sinclair Broadcasting Group, and Johnathan Rodgers, Chief Executive of TV ONE, demanding that their contracts with syndicated broadcaster Armstrong Williams be terminated immediately.

As reported in today's USA Today, Williams was allegedly paid $240,000 by the Bush Administration to discuss the No Child Left Behind program in a favorable light as a regular part of his radio and television broadcasts on stations owned by the two broadcast groups.

Slaughter noted in her letter that if the Fairness Doctrine were still in place, this type of deception would not be possible. The Federal Communications Commission repealed the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, which required radio and television stations to air all sides of important or controversial issues.

Because the American people own the airwaves, Slaughter reminded the broadcasters of their public interest obligations to provide diverse and balanced views on critical issues. She also pointed out that broadcasters could be found in violation of federal law if they fail to disclose such payments.

"Sinclair and TV One should move expeditiously to correct this egregious breach of the public trust and to restore the journalistic integrity that American audiences deserve.

This outrageous incident demonstrates once again why we need to restore the Fairness Doctrine. And it is precisely why I will re-introduce legislation to do just that.

Slaughter added," The idea of broadcasters-for-sale is simply despicable. But more importantly, it diminishes our democratic process, which depends upon the exchange of information without fear or favor.

The majority of stations broadcasting his television show are Sinclair stations.