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News In Brief

Senate panel votes to keep broadcast 'fairness' rule

The Senate Commerce Committee, by an 11-to-6 margin, rejected a bill Wednesday that would have repealed the broadcast fairness doctrine and equal-time law for radio stations.

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The vote represented a rebuff to committee chairman Bob Packwood (R) of Oregon. Senator Packwood has been fighting for more than a year to convince his colleagues that broadcasters should be accorded the same First Amendment rights as newspapers.

The fairness doctrine requires a broadcaster to present contrasting viewpoints when he addresses a ''controversial issue of public importance.'' The equal-time law, meantime, specifies that a broadcaster who allows a political candidate to use his facilities must extend the same opportunity to all of that candidate's opponents.