FCC: Fairness Doctrine is Obsolete

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Washington, D.C. – Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie today applauded a statement by FCC Chairman Kevin Martin confirming that the so-called Fairness Doctrine is obsolete.

“It can’t make our case any stronger than when the agency that once administered the Fairness Doctrine says it is no longer needed,” said Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie, who has hosted a talk radio show.


Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin says his agency has no intention of reinstating the Fairness Doctrine it dropped 20 years ago. Furthermore, he says, the need for such regulation “has lessened even further” since it was repealed.

Martin made his comments in a letter written this week to Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN). An amendment introduced by Rep. Pence to prohibit the funding of a new Fairness Doctrine passed by a vote of 309 to 155 in late June. Representative Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), however, intends to re-introduce legislation “to restore the Fairness Doctrine” in coming weeks. President Bush has made it known he will veto any legislation that seeks to reimpose the Fairness Doctrine.

In his letter to Representative Pence, Martin wrote: “[W]ith the continued proliferation of additional sources of information and programming, including satellite broadcasting and the Internet, the need for the Fairness Doctrine has lessened even further since 1987.”

“Chairman Martin has succinctly defanged the absurdity and partisanship of those who clamor for a new Fairness Doctrine,” added Project 21’s Massie. “In the final analysis, the Fairness Doctrine they seem to want is not about fairness and balance as much as about silencing those who disagree with them.”

Introduced in 1949 when there were relatively few broadcast outlets, the Fairness Doctrine was administered by the FCC to ensure that no single political viewpoint dominated the airwaves. In 1985, the FCC determined that “a multiplicity of voices in the marketplace assured diversity of opinion” and the Fairness Doctrine was no longer achieving its intended goals and was possibly creating a “chilling effect” on free speech. The FCC repealed the Fairness Doctrine in 1987.

Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11 or dalmasi@nationalcenter.org, or visit Project 21’s website at www.project21.org/P21Index.html.