The Fairness Doctrine

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The Fairness Doctrine was part of the Federal Communications Commissions’ policy which began in 1949 to ensure fairness and reduce bias in radio broadcasts, as there were a limited number of programs at the time. The policy was relatively broad at first however in 1967 the Fairness Doctrine was defined the by the FCC; listing acts which violated being fair and biased (ex. Personal attack.) The Fairness Doctrine went to the Supreme Court in 1969 with Red Lion Broadcasting Co., Inc. v. FCC. The case originated when the author of a book was attacked on a radio station program and when the author attempted to contact to the station to put forth his side of the story, the station refused. The author, named Fred Cook, went to the FCC, who ruled that the station violated the Fairness Doctrine. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the FCC and ultimately deemed the Fairness Doctrine constitutional. However the Supreme Court ultimately put an end to the Fairness Doctrine in 1986, claiming that with the broad number of new mediums for the media to communicate the fairness doctrine violated the first amendment and did not have to be regulated by the FCC, who in turn put an end to the fairness doctrine. However in 1987, a new bill to restore the Fairness Doctrine passed in Congress but ultimately failed due to a veto by then President Ronald Regan (Val E. Limburg.) However bringing the Fairness Doctrine back is under constant debate, as some believe it’s imperative to bring it back; whereas others believe it’s a clear violation of the first amendment. People like Steve Rendall, co-host of Counter-Spin a radio program by the organization FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting) believes its imperative to bring the fairness doctrine back. Since the demise of the Fairness Doctrine, news on public affairs has dropped significantly. However, the most significant argument to restore the fairness doctrine is the heavy conservative viewpoints that dominate the airways today....
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