Friday, August 15, 2008

Government-Mandated 'Balance' In Media

Nearly half of Americans (47%) believe the government should require all radio and TV outlets to offer equal amounts of conservative and liberal political commentary, while 39% say they don't want the government mandating political "balance" in broadcast media. At the same time, 71% say it is already possible for just about any political view to be heard in today's media, according to a Rasmussen Reports survey.

57% say the government should not require web sites and blog sites that offer political commentary to present opposing viewpoints. But 31% believe the web sites should be forced to balance their commentary. In a July, 2007 survey, Americans were evenly divided on whether or not the government should require political balance.

Democrats are more supportive of government involvement in the airwaves than Republicans and unaffiliated voters. 54% of Democrats favor it, and only 26% are opposed. Republicans and unaffiliated voters are fairly evenly divided. 45% of Americans say they are following recent news stories about the Fairness Doctrine somewhat closely, while 15% say they are not following the story at all.

The survey also found that 42% believe there are more conservative radio talk shows because they get better ratings, but 28% believe it is because stations owners are biased. 17% attribute it to an unspecified other reason, and 13% are unsure. Most Republicans (61%) believe conservative talk radio has flourished because of the ratings, with only 11% saying it is due to bias. Democrats, on the other hand, see bias as the reason over ratings by a 42% to 28% margin.

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As a 30 year plus broadcaster, the fact that Government intervention into what "views" are expressed, and to what degree - is even being discussed - disturbs me.

As to the proliferation of Conservative talk radio, I assure you it's ratings, and ratings alone. Anyone who thinks it's "bias" isn't looking at the books. There are just a handfull of Liberal radio shows, most local - not national. If listeners would embrace these shows, there would be many. Fact is, most of these shows languish and fold up quickly. Air America is the best example of a valiant attempt at Liberal Talk Radio. It's a "mess" at best.

The only national Liberal talk show I hear often is Alan Colmes. He has a sweet timeslot here in Wichita. 3-6am. I listen in as I shower and prepare to do the KFDI radio show - that here has 25 times the audience.