House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) today sent a letter urging the Federal Communications Commission to remove the Fairness Doctrine rules from the Code of Federal Regulations. The Fairness Doctrine has been deemed unconstitutional by the FCC itself, and has long been viewed as a threat to free speech.
"Despite the FCC's determination not to enforce the Fairness Doctrine, Commissioner McDowell recently discovered that it still remains in the Code of Federal Regulations," wrote Upton and Walden. "Further research has revealed that the political-editorial and personal-attack rules also remain intact despite the FCC's decision to repeal them. The media marketplace is more diverse and competitive today than it was ten years ago when the D.C. Circuit struck down the Commission's political-editorial and personal-attack rules. The difference is even more stark when compared to the market twenty years ago when the Commission concluded that the Fairness Doctrine was unconstitutional."
Earlier this year, President Obama called on federal agencies to review existing regulations, paying particular attention to outdated regulations that remain on the books. Although independent agencies like the FCC are not technically required to comply with the administration's Executive Order on regulatory relief, FCC Chairman Genachowski has indicated that he intends to abide by the spirit of the administration's policy. Upton and Walden concluded their letter by calling on Chairman Genachowski to remove the Fairness Doctrine and related political-editorial and personal-attack rules from the Code of Federal Regulations.
The committee leaders requested a written confirmation by June 3 that the FCC will finally wipe these outdated rules from the books as soon as possible.