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Love Boat and the Fairness Doctrine

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Here's Bob in Thousand Oaks, California. It's great to have you, sir. Welcome to the program.

CALLER: Oh, thank you, Rush. It's nice to be on the show. I want to address the Fairness Doctrine.

RUSH: Yeah?

CALLER: In 1977, to finish up a degree in broadcasting, I had to take class on the Fairness Doctrine, and I wanted to give you a couple examples. One was Johnny Carson thought it would be kind of humorous to have the local candidate for city council in beautiful downtown Burbank on his show. And he did. The next thing he knows, the FCC called NBC and said there's ten other candidates -- give or take; I may be off this on this; it's been a long time -- running for city council, and they are demanding equal time on your show. I don't believe NBC put them specifically on his show, but under the Fairness Doctrine, they had to go on at the same time in the evening and so on.

RUSH: Well, what they would do in that circumstance is they wouldn't put these ten candidates on the network show, The Tonight Show, but they would probably make the local NBC affiliate give them time.

CALLER: Yeah.

RUSH: This guy was running for city council there in the Los Angeles market which the NBC affiliate. I'll bet that's what happened. That's how it worked.

CALLER: Let me give you an example on a more national scale. The show Love Boat ran a Princess Cruise one minute spot in their show. The FCC ruled that made the entire 60-minute show a commercial and the networks had to clear 60 minutes of commercial time because of that spot, if I'm making sense in telling you that.

RUSH: I don't quite understand this. What do you mean "clear" 60 minutes of commercial time?

CALLER: Well, you know better than I. The FCC allows you 20, 22 minutes of commercials or whatever per hour. Right?

RUSH: Well... Yeah. Yeah, yeah. You're right. Yeah.

CALLER: Give or take. So what the FCC ruled is because you ran a Princess Cruise one-minute spot in a 60-minute Love Boat -- which, you know, is on a cruise ship. The entire show is on a cruise ship.

RUSH: Right.

CALLER: We are docking you a full hour of commercials.

RUSH: Oh.

CALLER: We're considering that. Does that make sense now? We're considering that whole show a commercial, and so you've gotta start pulling time off the air because you've used up your allocation.

RUSH: Now, that is something else. Did they give you that as a Fairness Doctrine example?

CALLER: Yes. Yes, they did.

RUSH: Well, the Fairness Doctrine really doesn't have anything to do with that. It has to do with issues in the public domain, not sponsors and advertising.

CALLER: No, I --

RUSH: It sounds kind of odd, because the whole show was a commercial --

CALLER: Well, yes.

RUSH: -- for the cruise industry, and they used Princess Cruise boats.

CALLER: Well, it was, obviously. It was a legal class that we had to take. Lucky for me I went on to become a program director. I guess it was useful to know that. But it could be that that could never be done again or anything, but we could see the logic of it. They say it worked out because that show shot on one of the two or three Princess Cruise boats that for the most part it was probably the exact same cruise ship that the show used, because, you know, they did use a real cruise ship --

RUSH: Right, they did.

CALLER: -- and actually sailed around. So I could see it would be considered a commercial.

RUSH: Well, yeah, the whole thing was a commercial for the cruise industry. That's kind of absurd. If Cunard or Royal Caribbean or any of these other cruise lines wanted to complain, "Well, you're showing the Princes logo," what the hell? You're getting a one hour commercial for the cruise business every week. It was every Wednesday on ABC (singing) "The Loooove Boat."

CALLER: I can't deny that but I'm just saying we were just told that one-minute spot made it a 60-minute spot. I don't know. I don't know the answer to that, but I'm just saying telling you that --

RUSH: Well, look --

CALLER: -- they were the examples they gave us in the classroom.

RUSH: Back in those days, nothing would surprise me out of the FCC.

CALLER: See, I think the point was --

RUSH: Back in those days. The FCC is fabulous today, but back in those days, nothing would have surprised me about it. Before the Fairness Doctrine was lifted in 1987, I can remember being at KFBK in Sacramento, and I'd say something. I forget the subject. It had to do with something going on in Africa, and some local African-American community leader who was constantly stirring it up, was just constantly complaining about everything. I tried to keep the guy at bay as often as possible. The manager came to me and said, "You're going to have bring this guy on the show. He needs some time to answer what you said," and I said, "(sigh) Jeez. Okay." I had to do it. There's no other way. What bothered me about it, folks, was not that I had to have the guy. What bothered me is he's not a professional! There's nothing about him that anybody wanted to listen to, and you couldn't really interview him or question him because you were infringing on his, quote, unquote, "equal time." So I tried to make it as entertaining as possible and have a nice, ongoing conversation with the guy, but when you bring in people that don't know what they're doing and you turn over your program to them, I could just see people pushing buttons out there, changing stations. The guy's going to be on for a half hour! They had to do it. They just had to do it, and in this climate, if it ever happens, the professional crap-stirrers out there are going to be loading up every broadcast with equal time complaints and so forth so that local stations just won't put up with it. They'll just get rid of all "controversial" programming. I still don't think it's going to transpire or happen. We'll see.

END TRANSCRIPT

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