IPcentral Weblog
  The DACA Blog

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Rather Fowl Than Fair
(previous | next)

The brouhaha over Rathergate called to mind how much the media landscape has changed since the Fairness Doctrine was repealed by the FCC in the mid-1980s. Before the repeal, and the emergence of talk radio and issue-oriented cable news networks, it would have been much more difficult for doubters of the authenticity of the documents to mount a credible challenge to the intial storyline and to get their views out. The requirement that each outlet ensure "balance" in presenting both sides of controversial issues--at the risk of fines or even the yanking of licenses for violations-- chilled vigorous debate about issues of public importance.

There's a lesson here for today's would-be communications reformers, especially the younger ones. When then-FCC Chairman Mark Fowler, the Reagan-appointed FCC chief, announced he wanted to repeal the Fairness Doctrine in the interest of free speech, he was greeted mostly with hoots, including from many mainstream broadcasters who were perfectly happy with the comfortable status quo. Many said it couldn't be done, the courts and Congress wouldn't stand for it. Fowler just put his head down and kept charging full steam ahead. Congresspersons were mortified, of course, and the courts slowed down the effort. But ultimately Fowler prevailed on what was, to my mind, the most important communications policy issue of the 1980s decade.

In pursuing communications policy reform in the post-Rather media age, we might be well-served by thinking boldly, Fowler-like, about big ideas, rather than worrying too much at the outset about the odds for success.

posted by Randolph May @ 3:12 PM | General

Share |

Link to this Entry | Printer-Friendly

Post a Comment:

Blog Main
RSS Feed  
Recent Posts
  EFF-PFF Amicus Brief in Schwarzenegger v. EMA Supreme Court Videogame Violence Case
New OECD Study Finds That Improved IPR Protections Benefit Developing Countries
Hubris, Cowardice, File-sharing, and TechDirt
iPhones, DRM, and Doom-Mongers
"Rogue Archivist" Carl Malamud On How to Fix Gov2.0
Coping with Information Overload: Thoughts on Hamlet's BlackBerry by William Powers
How Many Times Has Michael "Dr. Doom" Copps Forecast an Internet Apocalypse?
Google / Verizon Proposal May Be Important Compromise, But Regulatory Trajectory Concerns Many
Two Schools of Internet Pessimism
GAO: Wireless Prices Plummeting; Public Knowledge: We Must Regulate!
Archives by Month
  September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
  - (see all)
Archives by Topic
  - A La Carte
- Add category
- Advertising & Marketing
- Antitrust & Competition Policy
- Appleplectics
- Books & Book Reviews
- Broadband
- Cable
- Campaign Finance Law
- Capitalism
- Capitol Hill
- China
- Commons
- Communications
- Copyright
- Cutting the Video Cord
- Cyber-Security
- Digital Americas
- Digital Europe
- Digital Europe 2006
- Digital TV
- E-commerce
- e-Government & Transparency
- Economics
- Education
- Electricity
- Energy
- Events
- Exaflood
- Free Speech
- Gambling
- General
- Generic Rant
- Global Innovation
- Googlephobia
- Googlephobia
- Human Capital
- Innovation
- Intermediary Deputization & Section 230
- Internet
- Internet Governance
- Internet TV
- Interoperability
- IP
- Local Franchising
- Mass Media
- Media Regulation
- Monetary Policy
- Municipal Ownership
- Net Neutrality
- Neutrality
- Non-PFF Podcasts
- Ongoing Series
- Online Safety & Parental Controls
- Open Source
- PFF Podcasts
- Philosophy / Cyber-Libertarianism
- Privacy
- Privacy Solutions
- Regulation
- Search
- Security
- Software
- Space
- Spectrum
- Sports
- State Policy
- Supreme Court
- Taxes
- The FCC
- The FTC
- The News Frontier
- Think Tanks
- Trade
- Trademark
- Universal Service
- Video Games & Virtual Worlds
- VoIP
- What We're Reading
- Wireless
- Wireline
Archives by Author
PFF Blogosphere Archives
We welcome comments by email - look for a link to the author's email address in the byline of each post. Please let us know if we may publish your remarks.

The Progress & Freedom Foundation