The Fairness Doctrine was essentially done away with back during the Reagan administration, but FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell recently discovered that it continues to lurk within the Code of Federal Regulations. Key Energy and Commerce Committee members Fred Upton (R-MI) and Greg Walden (R-OR) have asked the FCC to get it out of there.
Upton is Chairman of the full committee; Walden is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet.
The pair cited an order from President Barack Obama asking his agency heads to look for and excise outdated items that remain on the books. They also noted the stated intention of FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to honor that request and suggested that the Fairness rules would be a good target.
During Obama’s campaign for the presidency in 2008 he indicated his opposition to the Doctrine.
“Despite the FCC’s determination not to enforce the Fairness Doctrine, Commissioner McDowell recently discovered that it still remains in the Code of Federal Regulations,” wrote Upton and Walden. “Further research has revealed that the political-editorial and personal-attack rules also remain intact despite the FCC’s decision to repeal them. The media marketplace is more diverse and competitive today than it was ten years ago when the D.C. Circuit struck down the Commission’s political-editorial and personal-attack rules. The difference is even more stark when compared to the market twenty years ago when the Commission concluded that the Fairness Doctrine was unconstitutional.”