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Copyright (c) 1989 Kentucky College of Law.
Kentucky Law Journal

COMMENT: Meredith Corp. v. FCC: The Demise of the Fairness Doctrine


77 Ky. L.J. 227


Donna J. Schoaff



Since the advent of radio and television broadcasting, an anomalous double standard has developed between the regulation of electronic and print media. 1 Traditional first amendment guarantees 2 have long taken a back seat to various governmental regulations on broadcasters. 3

Early concern over the effect of unrestrained competition for a limited number of broadcast frequencies 4 led to the establishment of the Federal Radio Commission (FRC) 5 and its successor, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission). 6 Throughout its existence, the Commission has had the duty to promulgate rules for broadcast licensees 7 and to interpret those rules in adjudicatory proceedings. 8 One such rule is the "Fairness Doctrine," 9 which requires broadcasters to provide coverage of vitally important controversial issues in their viewing area and to allow a reasonable opportunity for the presentation of contrasting viewpoints. 10

The Fairness Doctrine has been widely criticized in recent years by various interest groups 11 and legal scholars, 12 as well as the FCC. 13 In Meredith Corp. v. FCC, 14 the Commission took a giant step toward the elimination of this doctrine by ruling that the Fairness Doctrine no longer meets the "public interest" standard 15 justifying intrusion upon broadcasters' first amendment rights.

This Comment analyzes, in the context of the first amendment, the recent actions of the courts, Congress, and the FCC in their attempts to strike a delicate balance between broadcasters' rights of uninhibited speech and the recognized ...
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