The Washington Post

FCC removes Fairness Doctrine from the books

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. (Mark Wilson/GETTY IMAGES)

The regulation, which hasn’t been enforced in two decades, has been criticized for years as an over-reach of media industry speech rights.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said he opposed the rules, which he said were unnecessary. He said he removed the regulation from the FCC, along with dozens of other rules he described as outdated and a regulatory slog for the media and communications industries.

“The elimination of the obsolete Fairness Doctrine regulations will remove an unnecessary distraction,” Genachowski said in a statement.

The so-called Fairness Doctrine, first implemented in 1949 during a time when local broadcast markets had little competition and regulators hoped to promote differing political points of views.

The doctrine was abandoned in the late 1980s, but was never technically removed from the books. That has periodically concerned some media groups, particularly conservative groups that feared talk shows would be required to present equal time to opposing views.

Genachowski said the doctrine instead “ holds the potential to chill free speech and the free flow of ideas and was properly abandoned over two decades ago.”

Cecilia Kang is a senior technology correspondent for The Washington Post.

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