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The Fairness Doctrine was a policy of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), introduced in 1949, that required the holders of broadcast licenses both to present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was, in the Commission's view, honest, equitable and balanced. The 1949 Commission Report served as the foundation for the Fairness Doctrine since it had previously established two more forms of regulation onto broadcasters. These two duties were to provide adequate coverage to public issues and that coverage must be fair in reflecting opposing views. This doctrine was officially introduced in 1981 under the FCC chairman, Mark S. Fowler.
The Fairness Doctrine should not be confused with the Equal Time rule. The Fairness Doctrine deals with discussion of controversial issues, while the Equal Time rule deals only with political candidates.
In 1969, the United States Supreme Court upheld the Commission's general right to enforce the Fairness Doctrine where channels were limited, but the courts have not, in general, ruled that the FCC is obliged to do so. In 1987, the FCC abolished the Fairness Doctrine, prompting some to urge its reintroduction through either Commission policy or Congressional legislation. Following the 1969 Red Lion Broadcasting decision, which provided the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) with more regulatory power, the main agenda for this doctrine was to ensure that the viewers were ...