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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Why the Fairness Doctrine isn't fair

Anybody else catch this editorial in the Green Bay Press Gazette?
The Fairness Doctrine, repealed more than 20 years ago, required TV and radio stations that aired one side of a public issue or political campaign to give equal time to other points of view. It sounds fair, but the reality was much different.

Far from providing an opportunity for a spirited public debate of the issues, the doctrine suppressed such a debate. Radio and TV stations that broadcast advocates of one side of an issue found themselves with requests for equal time not just from the "other" side but from many different points of view.

Faced with a choice of running all sides of an issue or nothing, the most frequent choice was nothing.

Even presidential debates were impossible to broadcast; the famed 1960 Kennedy-Nixon debates could not happen until a special exemption to the Fairness Doctrine was created to keep the dozens of smaller political parties from demanding broadcast time equal to that afforded the major-party candidates. Even then, debates could not be arranged again until 1976.
There's much more that I wanted to excerpt, but instead I'll let you click over and read. And let's be sure to remember this one, in case Congress really does try to enact the Fairness Doctrine.