Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski said Monday he will strike the Fairness Doctrine from the agency’s rulebook under pressure from House Republicans.
“I fully support deleting the Fairness Doctrine and related provisions from the Code of Federal Regulations, so that there can be no mistake that what has been a dead letter is truly dead,” Genachowski wrote in a letter (PDF) to House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI).
The chairman said the rule, which required broadcasters to present opposing views of controversial issues, “holds the potential to chill free speech and the free flow of ideas and, accordingly, was properly abandoned.” The rule was introduced in 1949, but the FCC ceased enforcing it in 1987. However, the doctrine is still technically on the agency’s rulebooks.
The letter was in response to concerns from House Republicans that the Fairness Doctrine could be revived in the future.
“We are heartened by your continued opposition to the Fairness Doctrine because of its chilling effects on free speech and the free flow of ideas,” Rep. Upton and Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) wrote in response to the letter. “We are also pleased by your commitment in the letter to abide by President Obama’s Executive Order 13563 on Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review, even though it does not bind independent agencies such as the FCC.”
Genachowski said his agency had already eliminated 49 outdated rules and has “targeted 25 sets of unnecessary data collections for elimination.”