Polsby: Fairness Doctrine Will Not Return

Dean Daniel Polsby does not expect to see a return of the Fairness Doctrine, despite talk of its possible reinstatement.

Calling the doctrine "so yesterday," Polsby told USINFO that the measure lacks critical political support and would likely face a challenge on constitutional grounds, should the FCC vote to restore it.

The Fairness Doctrine, which was in effect from 1949 to 1987, says that broadcast outlets must air opposing sides of controversial issues. Many of its critics today point to the wealth of opportunities Americans have for information resources beyond the traditional broadcast media.

Opinions Vary on Need for Fairness Doctrine in Broadcast Media, USINFO, October 12, 2007. By Eric Green.

"Daniel Polsby, dean of the George Mason University School of Law in Virginia, told USINFO that the Fairness Doctrine will not return because the measure is 'so yesterday.'

"Polsby said the political support for the measure 'isn't there, and that its constitutionality' is such a 'weak reed that legislators who might otherwise be sympathetic' to the Fairness Doctrine 'will in many cases be turned off.'

"Polsby said the FCC could vote to have the rule restored. But he added that a court challenge to the doctrine inevitably would result in a ruling that it violates the U.S. Constitution."

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