FCC chair vows no zombie afterlife for Fairness Doctrine


The Fairness Doctrine has not been used since the Reagan administration, but its potential revitalization is frequently brought up whenever broadcast talk talent feels in any way threatened, despite the fact that the vast majority of those in Washington say they oppose it. Now FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is promising to scrub its last vestiges out of the books.

Key Republicans on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce hailed the announcement from Genachowski, which they said came in a letter responding to their questions on the topic. Celebrating the news were Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Communication Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR).

In addition to getting references to the Fairness Doctrine and related items scrubbed out of the regs, Genachowski promised to try to eliminate some 25 additional data collection requirements deemed to be outdated and unnecessary.

In response to Genachowski’s response, the duo is asking for a timetable. They wrote back, “We are heartened by your continued opposition to the Fairness Doctrine because of its chilling effects on free speech and the free flow of ideas. When precisely will you eliminate the Fairness Doctrine and related regulations? What is involved? Do you have the support of your fellow commissioners? How long will it take?”

RBR-TVBR observation: Every now and then somebody in Congress will get mad about something somebody says on the air and will demand the return of the Fairness Doctrine, but for the most part, it is correctly seen by nearly everybody in Washington as intrusive on the First Amendment and unenforceable. Although there has been no serious attempt to bring it back to life, despite the complaints, we are glad to see an effort finally is being made to drive the final wooden stake through its undead heart.