FCC Kills Fairness Doctrine

Copyright © 2011 Vanguard of Freedom

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski today announced the elimination of 83 outdated and obsolete media-related rules, including Fairness Doctrine regulations.

“Today’s action is part of the FCC’s reform agenda, which includes retrospective review of rules, elimination of rules that are no longer needed, and revision of rules to reflect changes in technology, thereby clearing the path for greater competition, investment and job creation,” an FCC statement said today.

The Fairness Doctrine has been replete with controversy, with some advocating for its continuance, Conservatives say, in order to stifle independent thought and to control talk radio and internet journalism.  SEE VIDEO

Under the fairness doctrine, both sides of every issue would need to be aired, and under the current talk radio formats, it would not be feasible commercially to operate in that manner, in effect ending free speech on national radio air waves.

A similar problem would occur on internet radio, mainly due to time constraints.

Chief proponents of the termination of the Fairness Doctrine were Conservative talk show personalities, like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, among others.

But the same effect on the opposite side of the argument would occur for Liberal talk radio shows, which have had less success on the talk radio circuit.

“The elimination of the obsolete Fairness Doctrine regulations will remove an unnecessary distraction. 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,” said Genachowski.

“Our work is not done. I have directed each bureau at the FCC to conduct a review of rules within their areas with the goal of eliminating or revising rules that are outdated or place needless burdens on businesses. We are also in the process of developing a retrospective review plan, pursuant to the recent Executive Order. We will continue on this regulatory reform track thoughtfully and diligently conducting our reviews of existing rules and taking other important steps to meet our statutory obligation and mission in a way that grows our economy, creates jobs and benefits all Americans,” Genachowski stated.

The Fairness Doctrine is not currently enforced by the FCC and has not been applied for more than 20 years. In addition, the FCC also announced the deletion of obsolete “broadcast flag,” cable programming service tier rate, and broadcast applications and proceedings rules. The elimination of these rules adds to the over 50 outdated regulations that have already been deleted as part of Chairman Genachowski’s regulatory review process. The FCC has also reduced Commission backlogs, including an 89% reduction in satellite licensing applications and a 30% reduction in broadcast licensing applications. The FCC is currently in the process of moving to eliminate 25 sets of data collections from industry that are no longer necessary.