Thursday, December 01, 2005

The Fairness Doctrine

The December 1, 2005 issue of the New York Review of Books has an excellent essay by Michael Massing on the current state of the American News media titled "The End of News". The paragraph below is the one that's been stuck in my mind for the past couple of weeks.

"An even more consequential, though much less visible, change took place in 1987, with the abolition of the Fairness Doctrine. Introduced in 1949, this rule required TV and radio stations to cover "controversial issues" of interest to their communities, and, when doing so, to provide "a reasonable opportunity for the presentation of contrasting viewpoints." Intended to encourage stations to avoid partisan programming, the Fairness Doctrine had the practical effect of keeping political commentary off the air altogether. In 1986, a federal court ruled that the doctrine did not have the force of law, and the following year the FCC abolished it."

Michael Massing's full essay can be found online here. The abolition of the Fairness Doctrine contributed greatly to the current political climate in the United States of America.

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