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Fairness Doctrine

Kyu Ho Youm


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The Fairness Doctrine, from its inception in the 1940s to its demise in the 1980s, epitomizes American broadcast law in flux. In adopting the broadcast policy, the →  Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of the United States intended broadcast licensees to make reasonable effort to discuss controversial issues and to do it fairly by affording equal treatment to conflicting viewpoints. But the doctrine was abolished in 1987 by the Reagan administration, which thought it had outlived its usefulness (→  United States of America: Media System ; Radio Broadcasting, Regulation of ; Television Broadcasting, Regulation of). Nearly every democratic media system considers impartiality and balancing the sine qua non of its broadcasting law and regulation (→  Balance ). Yet few countries impose impartial and balanced programming upon their broadcasters the way the United States did with the Fairness Doctrine. Perhaps Israel is the only nation that has directly borrowed from the US broadcasting rule, but the Israeli Fairness Doctrine is not identical to its American model, and should be instructive to those interested in the international and comparative approaches to the Fairness Doctrine. The US Fairness Doctrine has evolved through the policy statements and rules of the FCC. In 1949, the FCC officially announced the doctrine: Broadcast licensees have an affirmative duty generally ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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