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Regulation once.

Fairness doctrine Broadcasters were required to air programs covering controversial or public-interest topics and to provide time for opposing views. The doctrine was eliminated in 1987, when the FCC of Republican Chairman Dennis Patrick, under court pressure, declared the doctrine a violation of free speech.

Family viewing hours, kids TV The NAB, also under pressure from the courts, in 1982 eliminated the last vestiges of its programming code by dropping limits on the amount of ad time per hour. A provision designating 7-9 p.m. as "family viewing hours" was eliminated in 1976 after the court sided with TV writers who argued that the rule excluded such shows as All in the Family.

Public-interest programming Broadcasters were once required to survey local leaders to "ascertain" which issues were important to the community and to use the information to develop public-interest programming. The FCC dropped the ascertainment requirement in 1984.

Minority recruiting A station's personnel makeup was once expected to mirror local demographics. If not, civil-rights groups and others could challenge a station's license at renewal time. Federal judges struck down the rule in 1998 as de facto, and illegal, racial and gender-hiring quotas.

.and future?

Fairness Doctrine FCC Chairman William Kennard may revive the doctrine as part of his decision to end his recusal over court challenges to the last remnants of the doctrine, the right-of-reply rules for personal attacks and political editorials.

Family hours Lawmakers are floating a variety of ideas, including creation of new family hours, possibly between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. which would bar "excessively" violent TV shows and bans on marketing "age-inappropriate" products during children's shows. Others want an antitrust exemption that lets the industry revive the code.

Kids TV TV stations that offer digital multicast might have to increase the amount of children's programming from today's three hours per week. The FCC might also restrict kids-programming preemptions for sports and news in the digital world. Restrictions on interactive ad links are also under consideration.

Public-interest programming As part of the transition to digital, the FCC might require "acertainment lite" by ordering stations to report which standard categories their public-interest programs fit. Public inspection files might also have to be posted on the Web.

Minority recruiting Recruiting rules issued this year require stations and cable systems to recruit at job fairs and other demographically diverse venues. Broadcasters are fighting the rules in court, arguing undue paperwork burdens and threats to license renewals.

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