Last updated: October 30, 2008 - 8:47am
[Commentary] Here's the truth: the fairness doctrine is never, ever coming back. And that's a good thing. If you want more balance and variety on the airwaves, the fairness doctrine won't do it. It's a poorly designed, constitutionally dubious policy - one that failed to meet its arguably well-intentioned purpose the first time around. The old fairness doctrine was infrequently enforced and easy to avoid. Only a miniscule number of complaints filed were ever taken up by the federal communications commission. And despite the heated rhetoric in the conservative press, progressives should remember that a new fairness doctrine would cut both ways. For every complaint about some noxious shock jock's rant, there's sure to be a coordinated attack on "liberal advocacy journalism". The government simply shouldn't be in the speech-regulating business. Instead of bureaucrats deciding what constitutes balance, we need policies that encourage the expression of diverse points of view. Political imbalance on the radio dial shouldn't be blamed on the fairness doctrine's demise. The real culprit is runaway media consolidation. The biggest companies like Clear Channel and Cumulus have swallowed up hundreds of local stations, shuttering newsrooms and supplanting local talent to pipe in the same cookie-cutter, mostly conservative content from coast to coast.
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