Those opposed to the Fairness Doctrine are opposed to fairness, no matter what they may tell you. The doctrine required TV and radio stations to devote some of their air time to issues of public importance and, when they did, to treat those issues responsibly and without bias.

When, on Aug. 4, the Reagan FCC summarily abolished the doctrine, it was asking Congress for a fight. And now it's getting one.

The fight may be coming to a head this week on the Hill. Bills in both the House and the Senate would reinstate the doctrine; the Senate bill combines that measure with an exotic proposal to tax the transfer of broadcast licenses and use the money to help financially enfeebled public television. The bill would impose fines for Fairness Doctrine violations.

If these bills fail, the Fairness Doctrine will be appended to some other piece of legislation, one the president will be unable to veto, and that will probably come up once Congress returns from its Thanksgiving recess.

But even when the Fairness Doctrine becomes law, as its supporters insist it will, broadcasters are almost certain to challenge it in court. The Fairness Doctrine has never really inhibited broadcasters in their pursuit of revenues or in the dispatch of their duties; why, then, are they fighting it so relentlessly? Because they are drunk on the martini of deregulation and they want more more more.

They want all the rules abolished.

Andrew Jay Schwartzman, director of the Media Access Project, yesterday bemoaned as "a colossal mess" the movement to return the doctrine to the books. Hill sources were more sanguine about its chances, if not its procedural tidiness. In the House, the Fairness Doctrine is championed by Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.), who has made clear his determination to pass it.

All the right people favor the doctrine; many of the wrong people oppose it. Sixteen former FCC commissioners, four of them ex-chairmen, have formed a bipartisan group supporting the doctrine, warning that "every local, state and national election will be affected" during the political year ahead if it is not restored.

Those in favor are among the most respected and venerable of FCC alumni: Newton N. Minow, considered by many the best FCC chairman ever; Robert E. Lee, who spent 28 patient years on the commission; and Rosel H. Hyde, a former chairman who has written of the anti-Fairness forces:

"If they win, the American system of broadcasting, which I believe has well served the nation, will crumble."

Some former FCC members do oppose the doctrine. They are mostly communications lawyers and lobbyists. Among them is definitive lightweight and former chairman Mark S. Fowler, the Mme. DeFarge of deregulation.

The reasons always given for killing the doctrine are that it has had a chilling effect on free speech, discouraging broadcasters from tackling controversial issues. However, though the doctrine was retired on Aug. 4, those blissfully unfettered broadcasters have not exactly come forth with an explosion of vital documentaries in response.

Broadcast journalists who are asked say they did not feel constricted by the doctrine during its 37 benign years of operation.

William Wheatley, executive producer of "NBC Nightly News," asked if he ever found the rule inhibiting, says, "No. There is a lot of thought given to fairness in general, but the doctrine as a brooding presence? That has not been the case."

Rick Kaplan, executive producer of "ABC News Nightline," asked the same question, says: "The answer is no. In fact, an absolutely resounding no."

Tom Bettag, executive producer of "The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather": "Basically, no." Do broadcasters have less First Amendment freedom than print journalists? "I think we labor under less, but I certainly don't think it stultifies us in our work," Bettag says.

All three men, as it happens, fail to devote much time on their news broadcasts to such issues as the fight over the Fairness Doctrine. Neither the presence nor the absence of the doctrine seemed to compel them to do that. Bettag says, "In my 22 minutes {of broadcast time}, there are things I consider more significant than that."

What worries advocates of the doctrine is not just the rule itself but the others that may fall as well and the effect that will have on a democracy that depends on broadcasting for the bulk of its political information.

Washburn, active in the drive to save the rule, says that if the repeal is not overturned, then "all of the content-related rules of the FCC will likewise be subject to invalidation." These include the equal-time provision that protects the public from one-sided coverage of political races.

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader, in a letter to legislators that supports the Senate bill (sponsored by South Carolina Democrat Ernest Hollings), warns, "If the demonstrated will of Congress is flouted and the Fairness Doctrine does not become law, it will mean the end of the political editorial and personal attack rules. The FCC has indicated that the personal attack and political editorial rules will not stand without the Fairness Doctrine."

The personal attack rule requires a station that airs an attack against you to give you a fair chance for reply on the air. The political editorial rule has precluded TV stations from supporting candidates for public office. Without such safeguards, especially in smaller markets served by few outlets, political coverage could become wildly partisan; those victimized would have little course for redress.

Complicated though its particulars may be, the fairness issue seems simple and basic. Sen. William S. Cohen (R-Maine) has said, "The Fairness Doctrine is at the heart of the broadcasters' public trusteeship." The frenzy with which broadcasters attack it suggests the degree to which they are rejecting the whole public trusteeship idea.

They seem to want to be absolved of social responsibility. The FCC mandate that they operate according to "the public interest, convenience and necessity" fades further as each old rule is abolished. They want to own, rather than merely use, the publicly held airwaves over which they operate. It's roughly equivalent to citizens deciding they no longer wish to pay any taxes but still demanding government services and protections.

The provision of the Hollings bill that would take revenue from the license transfer fees and give it to public television was naturally rejected by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB). The NAB suggests instead that TV sets, VCRs and radios be taxed so that the public would have to pay the tab. God forbid the fat happy broadcasters should ever have to part with a buck.

"It is gross that the American consumer should be further burdened," says Nader, "while broadcasters get richer by trafficking in the sale of the public's spectrum."

Gross, yes. Also absurd and preposterous. But the owners of TV and radio stations want to get all the goodies from the cookie jar before the wide-open Reagan years close down.

People worry about obscenity in broadcasting. Perhaps they should worry that the insatiable greed of broadcasters is becoming an obscenity itself