FCC eliminates the 'Fairness Doctrine'
The Federal Communications Commission on Monday announced that it had done away with 83 "outdated and obsolete media-related rules," including the Fairness Doctrine.
"Our extensive efforts to eliminate outdated regulations are rooted in our commitment to ensure that FCC rules and policies promote a healthy climate for private investment and job creation," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement.
The Fairness Doctrine has been around since 1949, according to The Wall Street Journal, and once required licensed broadcasters to give equal time to differing political views. The FCC stopped enforcing the policy in 1987, but the rule was never officially done away with.
"The elimination of the obsolete Fairness Doctrine regulations will remove an unnecessary distraction," Genachowski said. "As I have said, striking this from our books ensures there can be no mistake that what has long been a dead letter remains dead. The Fairness Doctrine holds the potential to chill free speech and the free flow of ideas and was properly abandoned over two decades ago. I am pleased we are removing these and other obsolete rules from our books."
Genachowski has been pushing to get rid of the Fairness Doctrine for some time. But Monday's move was also in response to President Barack Obama's executive order calling for a "government-wide review of the rules already on the books to remove outdated regulations." In a January op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, Obama wrote that the order was an attempt to "strike the right balance" and "ensure that regulations protect our safety, health and environment while promoting economic growth."
Other rules eliminated by the FCC, the agency said, include ones concerning "broadcast flag," cable programming service tier rate, and broadcast applications and proceedings rules.
Reuters points out that the Fairness Doctrine is often mistaken with the equal time rule, "which is still in effect and requires TV and radio stations to provide equal coverage to any opposing political candidate that asks for it."