FCC's McDowell: Fairness Doctrine Still On FCC Books, Should Be Formally Repealed
May 19, 2011 at 4:08 PM (PT)
FCC Commissioner ROBERT MCDOWELL told the TELECOMMUNICATIONS INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION that he has discovered that the Fairness Doctrine, the old rule mandating "balance" of political opinion on radio and television and thought to have been repealed in 1987, is still in the Commission rules and should be officially repealed.
MCDOWELL, in prepared remarks, said, "The Fairness Doctrine is literally still codified in the CFR (Code of Federal Regulations). We stumbled on this forgotten fact while researching material for this speech." The Commission said in 1987 that the rule was unconstitutional and unenforceable, but MCDOWELL noted that with the rule still on the books, a new Commission could begin enforcing the rule again. "We thought that this monster's dead and stinking corpse was left to rot in a government graveyard. Instead, it appears that the Commission merely opted not to enforce the rule. Its words still defile the pages of the CFR, and we should erase it with a repeal order immediately."
The Commissioner also called for the FCC to review all of its rules to weed out rules that are unnecessary, adding that he would first get rid of net neutrality rules but that the job of doing so is more likely the courts' or Congress' domain. "Removing unneeded rules can liberate capital currently spent on lawyers and filing fees -- capital that would be better spent on powerful new communications equipment. Accordingly, I call on the Chairman and my fellow commissioners to stay faithful to Congress's intent, as embodied in Section 11, by promptly initiating a full and thorough review of every FCC rule, not just those that apply to telecom companies, but all rules that apply to any entity regulated by the Commission. The presumption of our review should be that a rule is not necessary unless we find compelling evidence to the contrary."