Posted 5 years ago on Nov. 30, 2011, 12:53 p.m. EST by puff6962
This content is user submitted and not an official statement
The Fairness Doctrine was a policy of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), introduced in 1949, that required the holders of broadcast licenses to both present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was, in the Commission's view, honest, equitable and balanced. The FCC decided to eliminate the Doctrine in 1987, and in August 2011 the FCC formally removed the language that implemented the Doctrine.
The Fairness Doctrine had two basic elements: It required broadcasters to devote some of their airtime to discussing controversial matters of public interest, and to air contrasting views regarding those matters. Stations were given wide latitude as to how to provide contrasting views: It could be done through news segments, public affairs shows, or editorials. The doctrine did not require equal time for opposing views but required that contrasting viewpoints be presented.
The main agenda for the doctrine was to ensure that viewers were exposed to a diversity of viewpoints. In 1969 the United States Supreme Court upheld the FCC's general right to enforce the Fairness Doctrine where channels were limited. But the courts did not rule that the FCC was obliged to do so. The courts reasoned that the scarcity of the broadcast spectrum, which limited the opportunity for access to the airwaves, created a need for the Doctrine. However, the proliferation of cable television, multiple channels within cable, public-access channels, and the Internet have eroded this argument, since there are plenty of places for ordinary individuals to make public comments on controversial issues at low or no cost.
The equal-time rule specifies that U.S. radio and television broadcast stations must provide an equivalent opportunity to any opposing political candidates who request it. This means, for example, that if a station gives one free minute to a candidate on the prime time, it must do the same for another candidate.
However, there are four exceptions: if the air-time was in a documentary, bona fide news interview, scheduled newscast or an on-the-spot news event the equal-time rule is not valid. Since 1983, political debates not hosted by the media station are considered news events, thus may include only major-party candidates without having to offer air time to minor-party or independent candidates.
This rule originated in § 18 of the Radio Act of 1927. It was later superseded by the Communications Act of 1934, where the Equal Time Rule is codified as § 315(a).
Another provision of § 315(a) prohibits stations from censoring campaign ads. A related provision, in § 315(b), requires that broadcasters offer time to candidates at the same rate as their "most favored advertiser".
The rule was created because the FCC thought the stations could easily manipulate the outcome of the elections.
The Equal Time Rule and the Fairness Doctrine of media should again be enforced. Frank errors, misrepresentations, and lies in reporting should again require sanction. The news media serves a vital function in our Democracy and it is rotting on the vine. News has become entertainment and it must again be treated as a service to the public. Newspapers and investigative journalism are dying and our federal government should adopt every incentive, tax break, or subsidy to preserve them.
I cannot stress this one enough. If our ability to find truth is allowed to perish, then our ability to govern ourselves is lost.