The Public Interest

The Fairness Doctrine and the First Amendment

Thomas W. Hazlett

Summer 1989

THE FAIRNESS DOCTRINE was cooked up by the regulatory chefs at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1949. The Doctrine required radio and television licensees “to provide coverage of vitally important controversial issues of interest to the community.., and ... a reasonable opportunity for the presentation of contrasting viewpoints on such issues.” Yet in recent months the Doctrine itself has proven to be just such an issue.

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