FCC Says Fairness Doctrine Dead, Conservatives Warn of Back-door Regulation

August 22nd, 2011 4:58 PM

"The FCC gave the coup de grace to the fairness doctrine Monday as the commission axed more than 80 media industry rules," Politico's Brooks Boliek reported this afternoon:

Earlier this summer FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski agreed to erase the post WWII-era rule, but the action Monday puts the last nail into the coffin for the regulation that sought to ensure discussion over the airwaves of controversial issues did not exclude any particular point of view. A broadcaster that violated the rule risked losing its license.

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.

So the Fairness Doctrine is dead. But the spirit of the same could well live on as a regulatory specter forever.

Regulatory pushes for "localism" and "diversity" requirements could prove to be a back-door reinstitution of the Fairness Doctrine, a Republican FCC commissioner warned two weeks ago.