HOME > NEWSROOM > ARTICLES > Commissioner Wary of 'First Step' Toward New Fairness Doctrine

Commissioner Wary of 'First Step' Toward New Fairness Doctrine

Calling it a “first step down the same dangerous path” of the infamous Fairness Doctrine, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai this week blasted a study being readied by the agency ostensibly to boost diversity in media. In a Wall Street Journal editorial, Commissioner Pai stated, “With its ‘Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs,’ or CIN, the agency plans to send researchers to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run. A field test in Columbia, SC, is scheduled to begin this spring.”

Commissioner Pai’s warnings build on the alarms raised by legislators in recent months. Notably, key Republicans on the House Energy & Commerce Committee sent a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in which they referred to the CIN study as a “Fairness Doctrine 2.0.” They wrote, “Given the widespread calls for the commission to respect the First Amendment and stay out of the editorial decisions of reporters and broadcasters, we were shocked to see that the FCC is putting itself back in the business of attempting to control the political speech of journalists.”

While his agency asserts the study is part of its research for lowering barriers to entry in media, Commissioner Pai dismissed this idea. He stated, “This claim is peculiar. How can the news judgments made by editors and station managers impede small businesses from entering the broadcast industry? And why does the CIN study include newspapers when the FCC has no authority to regulate print media?”  Commissioner Pai noted that the advocates of Fairness Doctrine-like “newsroom policing” are not deterred from continuing to press their agenda. However, he firmly stated, “The government has no place pressuring media organizations into covering certain stories.”

The Fairness Doctrine, first introduced in 1949, enabled the FCC to compel broadcasters to air opposing viewpoints on controversial issues deemed to be of public importance. The Fairness Doctrine, while not enforced since 1987, was finally eliminated from the Code of Federal Regulations in August 2011. NRB will remain vigilant against a resurgence of such a policy.

  • Find FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai’s Wall Street Journal article.
  • Learn more from the House Energy and Commerce Committee on this subject here.     

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: February 14, 2014

Latest News

Heritage Analyst Says ‘Cultural Cronyism’ Is Harming Nation

America’s cultural health is declining in most categories, although societal and governmental work has made a difference in a few cases, a think tank fellow told Christian media and ministry professionals Thursday.

Alistair Begg to Christian Broadcasters: Be Faithful in Proclaiming the Story

Christ-followers must “be bold, be clear, and be about the business,” Alistair Begg told a gathering of Christian media and ministry professionals Wednesday, saying it is fruitless to curse the darkness or to embrace it.

Mariam Ibraheem Receives NRB President’s Award for Her Enduring Faith in Christ

Ibraheem, who spent six months in a prison in Sudan because she refused to renounce Christ, was at the National Religious Broadcasters’ 2015 International Christian Media Convention to be recognized for her stalwart faith.

NRB Hosts Second Annual Digital Media Summit

Speaking at the summit were Guy Kawasaki, Justin Wise, Ed Stetzer, and Lord Robert Edmiston. In addition, Eric Metaxas moderated a panel featuring Katie Harbath, Casey Short, and Shalini Trehan.

Dennis Rainey Highlights 7 Nonnegotiables for Christians

FamilyLife President Dennis Rainey offered “seven nonnegotiables” for Christians on the spiritual battlefield during the Media Excellence Dinner on February 25 at the NRB 2015 International Christian Media Convention.

New FRC/NRB Survey Finds Support for Traditional Marriage

Contrary to the narrative that most Americans have accepted the “inevitability” of same-sex marriage, a new survey released February 24 finds broad support for traditional marriage and protection of those who hold such views.

America on Verge of Collapse, Says Robert Jeffress at NRB15

America will soon collapse from “explosive” decisions made over the last 50 years that have undermined the nation, Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress told Christian media and ministry professionals at the National Religious Broadcasters' International Christian Media Convention.

Dr. Billy Kim: Christians Must Be Faithful in Prayer and Proclaiming Christ

Dr. Billy Kim, who has been called the Billy Graham of Asia, reminded Christian media and ministry professionals at the National Religious Broadcasters’ annual convention that they are co-laborers for Christ.

Steve Forbes Tells Christian Media Leaders Free Market System is Moral

The free market system is moral because those who operate businesses within it “succeed by meeting the needs of other people,” Steve Forbes told attendees February 24 at the National Religious Broadcasters’ International Christian Media Convention.

Roma Downey, Mark Burnett Preview ‘A.D. The Bible Continues’ at NRB15

If Roma Downey and Mark Burnett were strangers to any members of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) in 2012, their 10-part production of The Bible, which aired on the History Channel in 2013, appears to have earned them a strong following among the broadcasters today.

More News