The Fairness Doctrine was first introduced in 1949 it required radio and television stations give "ample play to the free and fair competition of opposing views". In 1987, the FCC repealed it. Since the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, the number of talk radio stations has grown from 125 to well over 2000 today. Recently there has been renewed calls for regulating the content of radio by reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine or other regulatory approaches such as "local content", "diversity-of-ownership", and "public interest rules".
Talk Radio Has Become Too One Sided!
Main Reference:
  • Reinstating the Fairness Doctrine would ensure a more balanced diet of opinion, and help bring back a greater degree of civility to the airwaves.
  • Conservative talk radio is like a PAC, Political Action Committee, which can motivate its base of listeners to apply pressure to politicians for their ideas on policy and law.
  • A wide range of views is needed to safeguard democracy. An uniformed electorate lacks the tools to exercise free political judgements and is open to being swayed by a diet of propaganda.
  • Reintroducing the Fairness Doctrine would promote free speech rather than limit it. The Supreme Court found that the Fairness Doctrine did not abridge free speech because requiring access for a range of viewpoints does nothing to restrict the right to present a particular opinion.
  • Conservative stations have squeezed out opposing views entirely.
  • The airwaves are a public good and belong to the people through their government. It is fair for the stated to apply conditions to the license holders.
  • The ownership structure of the radio market is unfair. It is dominated by a few big companies who impose a right-wing agenda on the stations they control. Given the recent election results, this clearly can not be the result of market forces but instead is the result of pushing a particular political view upon the marketplace.
  • When the Fairness Doctrine was in force, the FCC used a very light touch. It simply required that some time be given to different opinions.
  • Similar fairness requirements are currently in effect in many other countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia without any problems.
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The Proposed Rules Will Stifle Free Speech.
Main References: , Wall Street Journal
  • These laws are a an infringement of the constitutional guaranteed freedom of speech. It is no business of the state to force feed citizens with opinions or apply some sort of media interference in the name of "balance".
  • When it was in effect, the Fairness Doctrine had a chilling effect on political discourse. The proof is in the huge increase in the numbers of talk radio stations from 250 when the Fairness Doctrine ended to over 2000 today.
  •  Broadcasting is a business. Just because conservative opinions are more prevalent on talk radio does not mean it is being forced on the air by broadcasters. There is nothing stopping someone from launching a liberal talk station. And there have been many failed attempts. It is not unreasonable to think that many of those who hold liberal views may prefer to listen to their favorite music rather than to political discussions.
  • When the Fairness Doctrine was first introduced in 1949, there was a scarcity of radio spectrum. AM radio and newspapers were the predominate news sources. Now we have FM radio, TV, cable, satellite TV, satellite radio and the Internet. The scarcity of radio frequencies is no longer a valid argument for the Fairness Doctrine.
  • Ownership of broadcasting stations does respond to market forces. In fact the FCC still regulates media ownership to ensure that no one company dominates either nationally or a local market.
  • The left is just sore that their views are unpopular with a segment of the population. This is just a way to silence their critics.
  • It is impossible to regulate broadcasting fairly. Who gets to say what constitutes "balance" or what kinds of views deserve access to the airwaves? Also where does it stop? Will Christian stations need to include the views of Muslims? Or will a station hosting a Garden Show need to provide equal time to a person promoting organic gardening?