The Fairness Doctrine

The Rise of Cable News.

Since 1949 public radio and television airwaves were governed by the “fairness doctrine.” This regulatory rule required radio and television to present multiple viewpoints when broadcasting controversial topics, especially regarding the “public interest.” The idea was to The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) abolished the rule in 1986. Supporters of the fairness doctrine argue that its demise led to party polarization and ideologically driven media (see talk radio and cable news). Critics of the rule insisted that it was censorship and not the role of government to determine what viewpoints were valid. For more information on the doctrine and its history, see this Time magazine article, and then answer the questions below.


Questions for Reflection:

1. Does the federal government have a role in policing the types of content broadcast on public airwaves?

2. If so, what should that role be? If no, why not?

3. Explain some of the consequences of ideologically driven news media.