FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell on Wednesday urged President Obama to clarify his position on any potential reinstatement of the Commission’s now-defunct Fairness Doctrine, in a Media Institute speech at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington.
The Fairness Doctrine was a 20th Century FCC rule that required broadcasters to provide equal airtime to all sides of a political issue; the policy was repealed in the 1980s. Some Democratic leaders, such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have spoken out somewhat positively about reinstating the policy. However, no such legislation has been introduced so far. In his speech, McDowell sharply criticized the doctrine, calling it outdated and possibly unconstitutional.
While an Obama spokesman during the 2008 presidential campaign said the president does not support reimposing the Fairness Doctrine, and called talk of returning to it “a distraction,” McDowell called for the new Obama administration to “enunciate its strong opposition to anything resembling the Doctrine.”