The Fairness Doctrine
The fairness doctrine is a government policy introduced in the year 1949 by the Federal Communications Commission of United States. The policy required that holders of the broadcasting licenses give sufficient coverage to important public issues. The policy also stipulated that such coverage should be fair in terms of accurately presenting conflicting views on such public issues (Krattenmaker, Thomas, Lucas and Powe, 152). The argument was that the airwaves belong to the public and should be used to promote public interests.
It is agreeable that the fairness doctrine should not be restored in the United States. In those days, there was a scarcity of broadcast spectrum making the access to airwaves limited. However, the production of cable television, multiple channels as well as the internet has made it easy for everyone to air their views and issues at no cost.
The primary goal of the doctrine was to ensure full and fair coverage of contentious issues. This reflects a desire to form the behavior of both the audiences and the broadcaster (Krattenmaker, Thomas, Lucas and Powe, 158). However, the fairness doctrine was a government policy stipulating that the citizens should be well informed even when it is not the citizen’s priority. The government dictates which programs should be aired rather than this being a result of fair competition for viewers and listeners (Krattenmaker, Thomas, Lucas and Powe, 152). The acquisition of media freedom from regulation has taken a lot of time and resources and restoring the fairness doctrine will be harmful to this freedom.
The airing of public issues should be left to the discretion of the broadcaster. The government should not try to regulate what the broadcaster broadcasts. It is the responsibility of the broadcaster to represent and promote the interests of the public without supervision or regulation.
Krattenmaker, Thomas G., Lucas A. and Powe Jr. “Fairness Doctrine Today: A Constitutional Curiosity and an Impossible Dream, The.” Duke LJ (1985): 151-176. Print
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