Out of Control Policy Blog

Fairness Doctrine = Regulated Speech

Dragging the issue out of the corners of the extreme left wing, Congress today is debating reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine. The not-so-veiled target, of course, is conservative talk radio, which tends to dominate the political discourse that occurs within the subset of the media transmitted on FCC-allocated radio spectrum from 530 and 1700 KHz.

The Fairness Doctrine, abandoned in 1987 after the FCC realized it would have a hard time withstanding constitutional challenge, stipulated that a TV or radio station had to provide time for opposing viewpoints. While the goal may have been to promote dialogue, most stations shied away from any political discourse at all, lest they face loss of license at the complaint of an aggrieved individual, stopwatch in hand, who felt shorted of due airtime.


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