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The Fairness Doctrine mandated equal treatment of political "issues" on the American airwaves. It was repealed in 1987.
The doctrine has been a double-edged sword in many cases. For example, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the law helped get anti-smoking ads on the air as a balance to the tobacco industry's ads after a consensus had developed that smoking could cause lung cancer. However, once the industry's ads were banned, the anti-smoking ads went as well due to lack of funding. The George C. Marshall Institute used it to attack anti-SDI programs on television and have them pulled off the air.
The only radio station known to have its FCC license revoked due to Fairness Doctrine violations (as well as being "flagrantly disrespectful of FCC requirements") was Philadelphia, Pennsylvania station WXUR, owned by fundamentalist minister Carl McIntire, in 1973.
Since its repeal, groups across the political spectrum have urged for its reinstatement. For example, conservatives fear that the modern TV news media over-represents liberals, and pays little to no attention to conservative issues and values.
More recently, the left has sought its return, partly in the wake of the "Swift-Boat Veterans
for Truth" fiasco, and partly in response to the allegedly large role played by conservative talk radio in defeating the immigration bill of summer 2007. This has caused its reinstatement to become a bogeyman of the right, with conservative radio hosts constantly claiming that Democrats are about to reinstate it, without any single Democrat in power having proposed a single piece of legislation to do any such thing.
- Debate:Fairness Doctrine: Weigh in on the Fairness Doctrine on RationalWiki's debate page for it.
- The Economist, "Media Madness, 11 Sep. 2003.
- Tobacco industry vs. anti-smoking ads, Temple University Newsroom
- Understanding the Global Warming Disinformation Campaign, Joe Romm
- Steve Rendall, "The Fairness Doctrine, How We Lost It and Why We Need It Back."
- TheHill.com, "Fairness Doctrine hammered 309-115."