Late last week, members of the U.S. Senate approved a legislative amendment that would prohibit the FCC from reinstating the fairness doctrine, which, at one time, required broadcasters to provide balanced coverage of political and other issues of public importance on the nation’s airwaves. Introduced by Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC), the amendment was attached to a bill that proposes to give residents of Washington, D.C. full voting rights in the House of Representatives and that was adopted by a vote of 87-11. In 1949, the FCC first implemented the fairness doctrine, which required radio broadcasters to provide equal air time for opposing political viewpoints. That rule, however, was abolished in 1987 after the FCC determined that proliferation of alternative sources of news and information made the fairness doctrine obsolete. While the Obama Administration has said it has no plan to seek a revival of the fairness doctrine, Republican leaders have voiced concern that congressional Democrats may attempt to reinstate the doctrine as a means of curbing the influence of conservative talk show hosts who have risen to dominate the AM radio band in recent years. While the DeMint amendment is intended to lay such fears to rest, Senate Republicans immediately took issue with the passage of another amendment, sponsored by Senate Assistant Majority Leader Richard Durbin (D-IL), that would reinforce provisions of current law that permit the FCC to promote diversity in media ownership and to require the nation’s broadcasters to “operate in the public interest.” Although some Senate Democrats claim that the DeMint amendment is too sweeping in its scope, DeMint charged that the Durbin amendment reveals “intentions to impose radio censorship through the back door.” The DC voting rights bill containing both amendments now goes to the House, where Republicans have also introduced language that would bar reinstatement of the fairness doctrine.