The Fairness Doctrine required broadcasters to present fair and honest information about all sides of a controversial issue. The doctrine was dismissed in 1987.
Photograph by Michael Christopher Brown, National Geographic
  • On August 4, 1987, the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repealed the so-called “Fairness Doctrine,” which required broadcasters to present opposing sides of controversial issues.
    Supporters of the Fairness Doctrine say it helped create an informed public. They think the doctrine allowed citizens, voters, and residents to rely on their television or radio station to provide varied viewpoints about issues related to their health, finances, or public policies.
    Opponents of the Fairness Doctrine say it was unconstitutional. They think forcing a broadcaster to present views he or she did not believe could violate part of the First Amendment—freedom of speech.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    broadcaster Noun

    person or organization who participates in television or radio communication.

    citizen Noun

    member of a country, state, or town who shares responsibilities for the area and benefits from being a member.

    controversial Noun

    questionable or leading to argument.

    doctrine Noun

    policy or system of teachings.

    Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Noun


    U.S. federal agency whose mission includes regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable.

    finance Verb

    to fund or provide money to an organization or individual, usually for a specific purpose.

    First Amendment Noun

    (1791) update to the U.S. Constitution prohibiting government from interfering with freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and freedom to petition the government.

    inform Verb

    to provide knowledge.

    provide Verb

    to give or make available.

    public Noun

    people of a community.

    public policy Noun

    course of actions, beliefs, and laws taken by a government having to do with a specific issue or concern.

    repeal Verb

    to overturn or reject something that was once guaranteed.

    require Verb

    to need.

    unconstitutional Adjective

    against the laws of the United States Constitution.

    violate Verb

    to break a rule.