Tom Shales {Style, Nov. 17} has launched another of his one-sided attacks on broadcasters and in favor of the reinstitution of the fairness doctrine.

Mr. Shales believes that for newspapermen the First Amendment is a right but for broadcasters it is a revocable privilege, that when I was a newspaperman I was a first-class citizen but that I automatically and correctly moved to second-class status when I went into broadcasting.

Mr. Shales argues that the fairness doctrine has harmed no one. Neither did the sword of Damocles; its effectiveness was in hanging, not falling. So it was with the fairness doctrine; the knowledge that a government agency could -- and occasionally did -- count broadcast minutes and seconds to measure "fairness" was enough to put fear of man if not God in broadcasters. Principles are at issue here as well as practices.

Mr. Shales quotes the executive producers of the three network evening news broadcasts to support his thesis that the fairness doctrine did not affect their product, as though he expected one of them to state that his had been a terrible news broadcast because of regulation.

Mr. Shales suggests that broadcasters are inherently venal and intuitively opposed to government regulation. But does he believe that newspaper publishers run eleemosynary institutions and favor government intrusion in the editing process? Why not a fairness doctrine for newspapers? Except, of course, that Tom Shales' Nov. 17 column would fail any fairness test.

GENE P. MATER Washington

The writer, a former CBS vice president, is a communications consultant.