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Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. Federal Communications Commission

The Fairness Doctrine

The advent of commercial radio in the 1920s constituted a revolution in popular communications. In the earliest days of commercial radio broadcasting, the allocation of broadcast frequencies was left to the private sector, resulting in a chaotic and virtually unusable broadcast spectrum. To sort out this chaos and protect the public interest in radio broadcasting, the federal government created the Federal Radio Commission (later the FCC) in 1927. This agency quickly reorganized the radio broadcasting industry, allocating fixed frequencies to licensed broadcasters and creating rules and regulations regarding radio station operations and, to some extent, programming. While pursuing its congressionally mandated responsibility to guard the public interest in radio broadcasting, the FCC determined in 1929 that the "public interest requires ample play for the free and fair competition of opposing views," a principle which the agency intended to apply "to all discussions of issues of importance to the public." By the end of the 1940s the FCC's efforts to ensure enlightened discussion of political issues from a variety of viewpoints had crystallized into the so- called Fairness Doctrine, which obligates broadcasters to offer free time for rebuttal and reply for commentators representing viewpoints differing from those presented in a station's programming.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1963 to 1972Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. Federal Communications Commission - A Personal Attack On The Airwaves, The Fairness Doctrine, Regulation Of Content, Freedom Of Speech For Broadcasters And The People