DEMOCRATS CALL FOR “FAIRNESS AND BALANCE” IN ARMED FORCES RADIO

Letter Expresses Support for Provision in Dept. of Defense Authorization Bill

For Immediate Release:

September 8, 2004

Contact:Stacey Farnen Bernards
202-225-3130

WASHINGTON DC – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD), Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro and other leading members of Congress sent the attached letter today to House and Senate Department of Defense Authorization Conferees encouraging them to retain language (the “Harkin Amendment”) that would bring balance to the political programming of the tax-payer funded Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS).
 
Currently, AFRTS broadcasts only one political talk show.  Contrary to misleading claims in the media, the Harkin Amendment does not call for the removal of this show.  In fact, the amendment would simply reaffirm DOD’s existing regulations which call for political fairness and balance on AFRTS’s tax-payer funded airwaves. 
 
“Fairness and balance are principles which are at the heart of American democracy, and we believe that they should be reflected in broadcasting to those who are protecting the values and principles for which America stands,” the signatories wrote.

Dear Messieurs:

As you prepare to go to Conference, we are writing to express our strong support for the inclusion of the Harkin Amendment in the Department of Defense Authorization Conference Report. This amendment addresses the political programming of the taxpayer-funded Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS).

AFRTS provides an invaluable service to American service members and their families stationed in more than 177 countries and U.S. territories around the world, as well as DOD civilians and their families.  AFRTS is intended to broadcast a “touch of home” by providing programming that reflects a cross-section of what is available to stateside audiences.

Recently, AFRTS has been criticized for broadcasting only one political talk show on its uninterrupted voice, or talk radio, service without ensuring that differing viewpoints are adequately represented.   The Harkin Amendment, which was accepted in the Senate DOD Authorization bill without objection, reaffirms DOD’s exisiting regulations, which call for AFRTS political programmming that is “characterized by its fairness and balance.”

Specifically, the Harkin Amendment declares that it is the sense of the Senate:

             that the mission statement and policies of the American Forces Radio and Television Service appropriately state the goal of maintaining equal opportunity balance with respect to political programming and that the Secretary of Defense should therefore ensure that these policies are fully being implemented by developing appropriate methods of oversight to ensure presentation of all sides of important public questions with the fairness and balance envisioned by the Department of Defense throughout the American Forces Radio and Television Service system.

Fairness and balance are principles which are at the heart of American democracy, and we believe that they should be reflected in broadcasting to those who are protecting the values and principles for which America stands.

             We strongly urge the Conferees to retain the Harkin Amendment in the DOD Authorization Conference Report.

             Thank you and with kindest regards, we are

Sincerely,

                           ______________________________

STENY H. HOYER                                                   ROSA DeLAURO

JOHN SPRATT                                                        ROBERT MENENDEZ

ELLEN TAUSCHER                                                  JOHN LEWIS

RAHM EMANUEL                                                     LOUISE M. SLAUGHTER

 

 

 

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