NASHVILLE, Tenn. | House Speaker John A. Boehner lashed out against efforts to regulate Internet traffic before an audience of evangelical Christian media leaders and pointedly responded to President Obama by comparing the challenge of the burgeoning national debt to the Sputnik-era space race.
In a speech to religious broadcasters that received a sustained ovation at his conclusion, he said free expression is under attack by a power structure in Washington populated with regulators who have never set foot inside a radio station or a television studio.
“We see this threat in how the FCC is creeping further into the free market by trying to regulate the Internet,” Mr. Boehner said.
“The last thing we need, in my view, is the FCC serving as Internet traffic controller, and potentially running roughshod over local broadcasters who have been serving their communities with free content for decades,” he said to loud applause from members of the National Religious Broadcasters, a trade group holding its annual convention here.
But, the Ohio Republican warned, one threat “dwarfs others in terms of the danger it poses to freedom and our children’s future.”
“You may recall President Obama, in his State of the Union address, talking about a ‘Sputnik moment,’ the moment that shocks our generation into getting serious. In my view, America’s ‘Sputnik moment’ is our shocking national debt,” he said.
Mr. Boehner also inveighed against any effort to reinstate the so-called “Fairness Doctrine,” whose 1987 elimination led to the rise of a vibrant talk-radio industry.
“Our new majority is committed to seeing that the government does not reinstate the Fairness Doctrine,” he said.
Mr. Boehner said Rep. Greg Walden, Oregon Republican, “has teamed up with another former broadcaster, Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana, to introduce legislation to help keep the airwaves free. I expect the House to act on this measure as well.”