The last nail was finally driven into the Fairness Doctrine’s coffin when the FCC eliminated more than 80 media industry rules, ending the obsolete post WWII-era regulation. The doctrine, that sought to ensure inclusiveness of different viewpoints broadcast on the airwaves, was officially erased by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski on Monday.
Conservative critics of the Fairness Doctrine believed the rule violated broadcasters’ rights to free speech and feared Democrats would try revive the regulation to silence conservative talk radio programs. While the doctrine was essentially abandoned in 1987 during the Reagan administration, it remained on the books until Monday.
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.
In a statement Genachowski said that the move was intended to promote “a healthy climate for private investment and job creation.”
While this could be considered a victory for those in broadcast media, one wonders if, as one regulatory push ends, will another begin?