FCC BURIES FAIRNESS DOCTRINE
As part of a house-cleaning effort to rid itself of some 80 no-longer-enforced regulations, the FCC on Monday relegated the Fairness Doctrine to the trash bin, The rule, which required broadcasters to broadcast opposing sides of controversial issues, had been abandoned by the communications regulator in 1987, but it had remained on the books. Monday’s action effectively erases it. For years it had remained a straw dog for conservative radio talk show hosts, who had predicted that liberals would attempt to reinstate it. Indeed, several liberal lawmakers have said that they believe it should be revived, but none has made any effort to do so since 2005. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said that the agency’s action “will remove an unnecessary distraction.” He said that the Doctrine held “the potential to chill free speech and the free flow of ideas.” Opponents of the Doctrine had argued that it was a clear violation of the First Amendment and that when broadcasters were previously faced with the alternative of having to present all points of view or none, they frequently chose none.