The Fairness Doctrine was a policy implemented by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the United States, which aimed to ensure balanced and fair coverage of controversial issues by broadcast media, such as radio and television stations. The doctrine was in effect from 1949 until its repeal in 1987. ## Fairness Doctrine overview The Fairness Doctrine had two main principles: 1. Broadcasters were required to provide coverage of controversial issues that were of public importance, ensuring that the public had access to diverse and contrasting viewpoints on matters of public concern. 2. Broadcasters were obligated to provide a reasonable opportunity for the airing of opposing viewpoints on those controversial issues, ensuring that different perspectives were presented fairly and without bias. The policy was based on the premise that the broadcast spectrum was a finite and valuable public resource, and as such, broadcasters were entrusted with the responsibility to act in the public interest by providing a balanced and fair presentation of news and opinions. ## Repeal of the Fairness Doctrine In the 1980s, under the administration of [[Ronald Reagan]], the FCC began to reassess the relevance and effectiveness of the Fairness Doctrine. The rise of cable television and other media platforms had increased the number of outlets available for diverse viewpoints, which led to the argument that the doctrine was no longer necessary to ensure access to contrasting perspectives. In 1985, the FCC released a report stating that the Fairness Doctrine may have a "chilling effect" on [[free speech (1A)]]], as broadcasters could be discouraged from covering controversial topics to avoid potential violations of the doctrine. The FCC argued that the doctrine might be restricting the overall availability of information on controversial issues, rather than promoting it. In 1987, the FCC voted to repeal the Fairness Doctrine, citing concerns about its potential infringement on the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech and the increased availability of diverse viewpoints in the rapidly evolving media landscape. ## Impact of the repeal The repeal of the Fairness Doctrine has had a significant impact on the American media landscape. In the years since its repeal, there has been a noticeable rise in opinion-driven and partisan programming, particularly on talk radio and cable news networks -- the rise of [[conservative media]] over this period is a notable example. Critics of the repeal argue that the absence of the Fairness Doctrine has led to [increased polarization](, [[negative partisanship]], and the proliferation of biased or one-sided news coverage. On the other hand, proponents of the repeal argue that the media landscape has become more diverse and competitive, with a greater variety of viewpoints available to the public. They maintain that market forces, rather than government regulation, should dictate the content and balance of news coverage. Overall, the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine remains a contentious issue -- with ongoing debates about its impact on the American media landscape and political discourse.