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FCC to eliminate 83 outdated media regulations

Among those being erased are Fairness Doctrine rules set in 1949 to force broadcasters to air opposing viewpoints. They had gone unenforced since 1987 but were never officially taken off the books.

August 22, 2011|From Reuters

The Federal Communications Commission is stripping 83 rules from its books as part of its reform agenda and in response to a request from President Obama earlier in the year to improve or remove any rules that were out of date.

Among the rules being eliminated are Fairness Doctrine regulations that were intended to promote honest, balanced discussion of controversial issues when introduced in 1949.

But as more broadcast stations and cable channels became available, the need to mandate a diversity of viewpoints eroded and the rules were abolished in 1987. The FCC has not enforced the rules in more than two decades, but they were never officially taken off the books.

"Striking this from our books ensures there can be no mistake that what has long been a dead letter remains dead," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement Monday.

Genachowski called the Fairness Doctrine an unnecessary distraction with the potential to curb free speech.

The rules threatened to strip broadcasters' licenses if they did not air opposing viewpoints. Their elimination protects religious broadcasters, conservative talk radio shows and others worried about a possible resurgence of the doctrine.

Other media-related regulations that have not been in effect for years will also be deleted. The FCC said the 83 rules eliminated will not have any significant impact on broadcast businesses.

The FCC is expected to adopt an order as early as Wednesday to send to the Federal Register. Once the order is published in the Federal Register, the rules will officially be removed from the Code of Federal Regulations.

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