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FCC Kills Off Outdated “Fairness Doctrine” Once And For All

The FCC has finally struck the oft-chided and not-oft enforced “Fairness Doctrine” from its books. The generally clumsy policy was sloughed off with 82 other media industry rules that were deemed “out-dated” or “regulatory slog” in an attempt by the agency to reform agenda.

The Fairness Doctrine was initially instated after WWII with hope that it would promote adequate coverage of public issues while ensuring that coverage fairly represented opposing views. And while it might have done so much in early days broadcast journalism, it has most often been criticized as a too-heavy-hand from the media industry and as a hamper to free speech in the more diverse media landscape of the past few decades. The commission voted it down under President Reagan in 1987, but is only now officially killing it.

“The elimination of the obsolete Fairness Doctrine regulations will remove an unnecessary distraction,” said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. The Doctrine, he suggests, “holds the potential to chill free speech and the free flow of ideas and was properly abandoned over two decades ago.” It’s elimination comes, most of all, as a relief to radically conservative and radically religious broadcasters seeking protection.

The FCC’s revision likely stems from a White House executive order for a “government-wide review of regulations already on the books” intended to eliminate unnecessary regulations. Genachowski also added that the revisions were aimed to promote “a healthy climate for private investment and job creation.”

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