FCC officially kills Fairness Doctrine, wiping it from rules

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski announced the elimination of 83 outdated and obsolete agency rules on Monday, including the controversial Fairness Doctrine.

“The elimination of the obsolete Fairness Doctrine regulations will remove an unnecessary distraction. As I have said, striking this from our books ensures there can be no mistake that what has long been a dead letter remains dead," Genachowski said in a statement.

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"The Fairness Doctrine holds the potential to chill free speech and the free flow of ideas and was properly abandoned over two decades ago. I am pleased we are removing these and other obsolete rules from our books."

The rule required broadcasters to cover controversial issues in a manner deemed fair and balanced by the FCC. The commission deemed it unconstitutional in 1987 and ceased enforcement.

Some Democrats had suggested reviving the Fairness Doctrine in recent years in reaction to the partisan nature of cable news. Republicans were pushing the FCC to scrap it once and for all.

Genachowski previously pledged to strike the Fairness Doctrine and other antiquated rules as part of the Obama administration's ongoing regulatory review aimed at reducing the burden on businesses. The administration recently expanded the review to include independent agencies.


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“Our extensive efforts to eliminate outdated regulations are rooted in our commitment to ensure that FCC rules and policies promote a healthy climate for private investment and job creation," Genachowski said. "I’m proud of the work we are doing toward our goal of being model of excellence in government."


The FCC also said it will delete the obsolete "broadcast flag" rules along with 50 other regulations that have already been removed. Genachowski said the agency's work is not done, and he has directed the head of each agency bureau to review rules in their areas with a goal of eliminating or revising rules that place needless burdens on businesses.