Going Backwards: FCC Kills Off Fairness Doctrine
The FCC gave the coup de grace to the fairness doctrine Monday as the commission axed more than 80 media industry rules.
Earlier this summer FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski agreed to erase the post WWII-era rule, but the action Monday puts the last nail into the coffin for the regulation that sought to ensure discussion over the airwaves of controversial issues did not exclude any particular point of view. A broadcaster that violated the rule risked losing its license.
While the commission voted in 1987 to do away with the rule — a legacy to a time when broadcasting was a much more dominant voice than it is today — the language implementing it was never removed. The move Monday, once published in the federal register, effectively erases the rule.
Monday’s move is part of the commission’s response to a White House executive order directing a “government-wide review of regulations already on the books” designed to eliminate unnecessary regulations.
Also consigned to the regulatory dustbin are the “broadcast flag” digital copy protection rule that was struck down by the courts and the cable programming service tier rate. Altogether, the agency tossed 83 rules and regs.
Genachowski said in a statement that the move was aimed at promoting “a healthy climate for private investment and job creation.” Both the Obama administration and the FCC have come under criticism by business groups over laws and regulations such as health care reform and net neutrality rules.