Genachowski Opposes Fairness Doctrine

Fariness Doctrine: Complete Coverage From Broadcasting & Cable

Julius Genachowski, President Obama's nominee for chairman of the FCC, said Tuesday that he did not support reimposing the fairness doctrine.

He was asked at his nomination hearing by ranking Senate Commerce Committee Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) to publicly state the opinion he had expressed to her in a meeting--that he did not support the doctrine, even if it were arrived at by ancillary routes like localism mandates.

Genachowski said he strongly believes in the First Amendment and doesn't think the FCC should be involved in censorship based on political speech and opinion.

The doctrine once required broadcasters to actively seek out opposing viewpoints on controversial issues of public importance, but was scrapped by the FCC in 1987 as unconstitutional.

Genachowski got high praise from Republicans and Democrats alike during the hour-and-a-half hearing for a confirmation that appeared all but assured.

Republican FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell, who also got his renomination vetting in the committee Tuesday, said he did not have any concerns that the commission would reimpose it, saying he would take Genachowski at his word.

McDowell has spoken out strongly against the doctrine, as well as other proposed policies he thought could impact broadcaster speech or business. He reiterated his concern that the government not add any unnecessary regulatory complications to a business struggling to find its footing in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.