Genachowski Plans to Delete Fairness Doctrine From Code of Federal Regs
Doctrine required TV stations to air opposing viewpoints of important controversial issues
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 6/7/2011 12:24:59 PM
That came in a letter responding to a request from Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Greg Walden (R- Ore.), the chairs of the House Energy & Commerce Committee and Communications Subcommittee, that the FCC officially deep-six the doctrine, pointing to President Obama's directive earlier this year to federal agencies to review outdated regs still on the books.
"I fully support deleting the Fairness Doctrine and related provisions form the Code of Federal Regulations," he wrote in a letter dated June 6 (a copy of which was obtained by B&C), " so that there can be no mistake that what has been a dead letter is truly dead." He said that his staff was currently reviewing its regs, which has focused to date on rules still actively governing licensees, but that he expected they would recommend the deletion of the fairness doctrine and related corollaries, which provided for free response time for personal attacks and equal time for other candidates if a station endorsed a candidate in an editorial. The corollaries were repealed by the FCC in 2000.
"I look forward to effectuating this change when acting on the staff's recommendations and anticipate that the process can be completed in the near future," he wrote. He reiterated that he felt the doctrine had the potential to chill speech and should have been abandoned when it was more than two decades ago.
The issue came up after Republican FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell pointed out in a speech that, although the FCC ruled back in 1987 that the doctrine was unconstitutional and unenforceable, the doctrine remained in the Code of Federal Regulations, which meant essentially it was teed up if a future commission decided to enforce it.
McDowell suggested that it was high time to take it off the books, and the Republican legislators agree.
The doctrine required TV stations to air controversial issues of public importance and seek out opposing viewpoints. Also still on the books are corollaries to the doctrine providing for free response time for personal attacks and providing equal time for other candidates if a station endorsed a candidate in an editorial. The corollaries were repealed by the FCC in 2000.
Although the fairness doctrine has not been enforced sufficiently, I believe it is essential to have opposite points of view presented at a time when people are selecting all one news perspective.
Barbara Stoddard - 6/24/2011 7:30:49 AM EDT
By following through on what Republican legislators have requested, i.e., removing the Fairness Doctrine from the F.C.C. books, Chairman Genachowski is complicit in enforcing the mainly, one-sided point of view that talk radio expresses daily because of the ownership by Clear Channel Radio of over 1,000 stations nationally.
John P. Falchi - 6/9/2011 4:10:16 PM EDT
Is canceling the "Fairness Doctrine" really good for healthy democracy?
I don't think so.
The FCC control OUR airways. They don't belong to the corporations that currently control the radio frequency licenses they use to broadcast their one sided messages.
In fact, when a media station is found to have lied to us, intentionally, then the FCC, working on the public's behalf, should maintain the power to enforce proper use of that license and possibly strip that license from the corporation.
Removing the "Fairness Doctrine" strips the FCC thus the "Public", from the ability to enforce proper use of our airways.
Sal M - 6/9/2011 2:56:58 PM EDT
This is terrible. Nearly all of the public airways talk radio is dominated by a single political viewpoint. That is not healthy for America. As a news editor of a site that welcomes all voices and views, I can attest there is nothing difficult about being "fair" but most so-called media isn't interested in fairness anymore. The government ought to go back to enforcing the fairness doctrine so people on every station can be assured they're being informed of all sides of an issue, not brainwashed.
MG Raftery - 6/9/2011 1:06:10 PM EDT
Ignoring the Fairness Doctrine is what has brought us this right-slanted news with no opposing opinions. A person who listens to Fox news or Clear Channel radio only hears one side and there is no challenge to their "facts". They make up data all the time and there is never any effort to check or look at the opposition. This is what is making our country so partisan. Let's bring back the Fairness doctrine.
Jeanne Brown - 6/9/2011 12:54:25 PM EDT
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