Rush Limbaugh speaks to fans in Michigan, May 2007
Rush Limbaugh speaks to fans in Michigan, May 2007 - 


Lisa Napoli: The immigration bill might have gone down on Thursday morning, but there was a related battle brewing into the night. It had to do with talk radio and what's called the "Fairness Doctrine." Essentially, it would give the government — not the market — control over the radio dial.

The issue came up because of the major play the immigration bill was getting on conservative talk shows. From Washington, Jeremy Hobson reports.

Jeremy Hobson: Democrats have never been particularly happy to hear this on the AM dial:

Rush Limbaugh: American leftists have completely lost their minds here folks — but thank goodness for us they have...

Even some Republicans didn't like what talk radio hosts were saying about immigration. Lawmakers thought, if you can't beat 'em, regulate 'em. That idea died last night.

The House banned the FCC from forcing broadcasters to balance their content. So the programs that bring in the dough stay on the radio — which, to media critic Dan Kennedy, means conservative stations have the edge.

Dan Kennedy: They stay on message all day. And so they build audience loyalty that way, and I think that's a key reason why they've been as successful as they've been.

Kennedy says there are some successful liberal talk shows. But Stephanie Miller just isn't the household name Rush Limbaugh is, and Air America has been struggling with bankruptcy.

In Washington, I'm Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

Follow Jeremy Hobson at @jeremyhobson