IGNORING THE FACT that there is nothing "fair" about the so-called "fairness doctrine" with which government can control the broadcasting of ideas in this country, Congress has voted to convert this chilling federal regulation into a full-blown law. Those who fell for this measure will trot out all sorts of high-sounding baloney about how this move will make sure that America's broadcasters can't somehow gang up and conspire to keep certain views off the air entirely. In the early days of limited radio and television, that was a legitimate concern. Today, it's more than preposterous; it is a dangerous government control of free, independent, responsive broadcast journalism. President Reagan, who is strongly opposed to this policy, is said to be considering vetoing the bill. He should -- and members of Congress who care about genuinely fair offerings of viewpoints over today's vast array of radio and television outlets should vote to sustain the veto.
Those who have been pushing to make the doctrine a law argue that fewer people have access to the airwaves than to print. Really? Leaving aside all the radio talk shows, public- access cable channels and other open forumson the air, the sheer number of radio and tele-vision outlets today is hardly restrictive. There are about 10,000 radio stations and about1,300 television stations in operation. Should every one of these stations be required to air all conflicting views on issues every time they present one or two views on a subject? If so, isn't this likely to inhibit broadcasters from exploring issues?
Our view does come from an organization with a direct interest in broadcasting, but it stems from a belief that the "fairness doctrine" undercuts independent, sound journalism by inserting governmental dictates. That's dangerous, unhelpful and deceptive. The measure should not become law.