The Instigator
allynicole.k
Pro (for)
The Contender
IvanC
Con (against)

Should the Federal Communications Commission Reenact the Fairness Doctrine?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/24/2017 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 weeks ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 192 times Debate No: 106102
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (1)
Votes (0)

 

allynicole.k

Pro

The Fairness Doctrine was enacted in !949 in an effort to require T.V. and radio stations holding FCC broadcasting licenses to present both sides of an issue. One main part of the Fairness Doctrine was that it required broadcasters to devote some of their airtime to discussing controversial matters of public interest. These controversial matters informed people about issues of importance that they otherwise might not have known.

Round One: Acceptance
Round Two: Main Arguments
Round Three: Rebuttals
Round Four: Concluding Statements
IvanC

Con

I would like to thank Ally for posting this argument. Over the course of these days, I am going to show that the abolishment of the Fairness Doctorine in 1987 was one of the most important and smart moves for the television and radio business. This choice not only benefits companies but the people as well.
Debate Round No. 1
allynicole.k

Pro

The Fairness Doctrine should be reinstated due to its many benefits for the public. One main part of the Fairness Doctrine was that it required broadcasters to devote some of their airtime to discussing controversial matters of public interest. These controversial matters informed people about issues of importance that they otherwise might not have known.

When both sides of an issue are depicted, the public will be better informed. According to the founders of the Fairness Doctrine, it is the "right of the public to be informed . . . which is the foundation stone of the American system of broadcasting." When the public is informed of both sides of an issue, they are able to make more intelligent decisions.

The Fairness Doctrine also limits personal attacks. According to Dylan Matthews, a journalist well-known for writing for The Washington Post, the doctrine mandated that broadcasters alert anyone subject to a personal attack in their programming and give them a chance to respond. The broadcasters must allow somebody who has been personally attacked to come onto the show and refute what was said about them. For example, when Red Lion Broadcasting Company broadcast a program where Reverend Billy James Hargis personally attacked author Fred J. Cook, Cook requested a chance to respond. When Red Lion refused this request, the Federal Communications Commission intervened, and when the case went up to the Supreme Court, they decided that broadcasting companies must follow the Fairness Doctrine and allow people to respond when they have been personally attacked. Red Lion Broadcasting Company was then forced to allow people to refute personal attacks against themselves.

In addition, the Fairness Doctrine is still relevant to today"s media. One of the main purposes of the Fairness Doctrine was to ensure that controversial issues were being brought to the public"s attention. According to procon.org, controversial issue assignments increase critical thinking skills and appreciation of cultural diversity. A 2003 evaluation of students given a controversial issue assignment showed that 98.25% agreed that they were "more sensitive to the concerns of people from diverse populations" after completion of a controversial issue assignment, 6.4% agreed that their knowledge about another population had increased, and 94.7% agreed that the assignment had "sharpened their critical thinking skills." This evaluation was published in the Journal of Teaching and Social Work. A 2005 report by the Association of American Colleges and Universities showed that 93% of higher education faculty believe critical thinking is an essential learning outcome, and a 1994 survey of college graduates conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute at University of California Los Angeles showed that the "ability to think critically" ranked as the second most important skill in their lives. Also, a 2007 survey of students conducted by Keith Barton, a professor at Indiana University, and Alan McCully showed that students who regularly take part in classroom discussion are more likely to vote in later life, support basic democratic values, take part in political discussions, follow political news in the media, be interested in the political process, have confidence in their ability to influence public policy.

As you can see, the Fairness Doctrine has many benefits that prove that it should be reinstated for the good of the public.
IvanC

Con


The Fairness Doctrine does not offer listeners any more opinions. Originally reenacted in the year 1949 when news on the television and radio were very new, the Fairness Doctrine was a necessary rule to keep the public informed on both sides of a story. Now in the 21st century, podcasts, radio stations, television stations, and other forms of digital communication are plentiful and with the search of a few words you have all the information in the world at your fingertips. Thus, this makes diverse opinions and accurate facts extremely easy to find. For example, when I was researching this topic, I found many articles on both sides of this controversial topic within minutes.


My second argument is that Millennials are no longer getting their news from the TV or radio. A study by the Media Insight Project suggests that the current generation is now keeping up with the news not by TV or radio instead by social media. “Social media keeps me more informed than I could be with the other forms of news. By quickly scrolling through my feed, I can see the major stories going on. If I need to read deeper into it, I can go to a credible source’s website,” said a 25-year old in Chicago. (1) If our current generation is not using the TV or radio for news, how would reenacting the Fairness Doctrine be useful? The simple answer is, it wouldn’t.


One of the big issues with the Fairness Doctrine is that it is not constitutional. Although in the Supreme Court case Red Lion Broadcasting Co., Inc. v. Federal Communications Commission, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the FCC, this was not the correct choice since the first amendment guarantees citizens right to freedom of speech. If someone has done something that others do not appreciate, that person can and should be criticized if the person has evidence. The criticized as well has all the rights to refute the criticism, but they should do it on their own behalf. “To win a defamation case, a plaintiff must show four things: 1) a false statement purporting to be fact…” (2) If the statement being said about the person is not false and is backed up with evidence, the critic has all the rights to state their opinion. Hence, Red Lion did have the right to refuse to air the counter. Some may argue that since this is a business, they did not have the right to freedom of speech. In the case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court ruled that business do have the right to free speech. (3)


The biggest problem that the Fairness Doctrine is that, simply stated, it did not nor would work. Due to the threat of legal penalty, forcing broadcasters to show both sides of an issue would make them unwilling to show their own opinion. “…with the threat of potential FCC retaliation for perceived lack of compliance, most broadcasters would be more reluctant to air their own opinions because it might require them to air alternative perspectives that their audience does not want to hear,” says reporter Adam Thierer. (4)


Why was the Fairness Doctrine abolished? "This type of content-based regulation by the federal government is, in my judgment, antagonistic to the freedom of expression guaranteed by the First Amendment.” This was stated in Ronald Reagan’s veto message for the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine. President Reagan did not see how this rule was constitutional or helping the public. (5)


All of this information leads to a question: is the Fairness Doctrine really fair? If so, to whom? It’s not the public since as provided in my arguments; the public has more than enough resources to gather neutral information, opinions, and facts. As stated by Allienicole.k critical thinking is an essential for the public and luckily, we have all the resources to do so.


Works Cited:


1: “How Millennials Get News: Inside the habits of America’s first digital generation.” American Press. 16th of March, 2015: n.p., n.database. Electronic. Acc. 12/27/17


2. Kim, Jonathan. “Defamation.” Legal Information Institute. June of 2016: n.p., Cornell University. Electronic. Acc. 12/27/17


3. Quattlebaum, Jeremy. “Do corporations have First Amendment rights?” Annenberg Classroom. 19th of January, 2012: n.p., n.database. Electronic. Acc. 12/27/17


4. Thierer, Adam. “Why The Fairness Doctrine Is Anything But Fair.” The Heritage Foundation. 29th of October, 1993: n.p., n.database. Electronic. Acc. 12/27/17


5. Pagano, Penny. “Reagan's Veto Kills Fairness Doctrine Bill.” Los Angeles Times. 21st of June, 1987: n.p., n.database. Electronic. Acc. 12/27/17



Debate Round No. 2
allynicole.k

Pro

Even though both sides of topics are easy to find, people should not have to waste time and effort in attempts to find them. Instead, they should be able to go to one place to find both sides of an issue.

You say that millennials are no longer getting their news from the TV or radio. While this may be true, millennials are only part of this country's population. There is sufficient evidence that proves that older generations get most of their news from the television and radio.

One point that you made is the possibility of the Fairness Doctrine limiting freedom of speech. However, this is not the case. The Fairness Doctrine does not stop people from sharing their views, it just seeks to ensure that the opposing views are shared as well so that the public is well informed and able to make intelligent decisions. During the time that the Fairness Doctrine was is use, a case was made about this issue. This case, Red Lion Broadcasting Company vs. the Federal Communications Commision, was brought all the way up to the Supreme Court. The two matters brought to the court were whether the Federal Communications Commision had the right to create and enforce the Fairness Doctrine and whether the doctrine violated broadcasters" First Amendment right to Freedom of Speech. The Highest Court of the Land ruled unanimously in favor of the Federal Communications Commision saying that "there is nothing in the First Amendment which prevents the Government from requiring a licensee to share his frequency with others." Therefore, the Fairness Doctrine does not violate the First Amendment right to Freedom of Speech in this way. The quotes continues with "it is the right of the viewers and listeners, not the right of the broadcasters, which is paramount." Even though the broadcasters have rights, the rights of the public are more important. The Fairness Doctrine never restricts people from presenting their views and opinions. It just makes sure that people are also presenting the opposing views.

In addition, in reference to your point that the Fairness Doctrine made broadcasters unwilling to show their own opinion, I would just like to mention that the government can not control what people do in response to laws or other things, like doctrines. Therefore, it is not the fault of the government if broadcasters were unwilling to share their opinions.
IvanC

Con

I wasn't sure which argument you wanted me to rebuttal so I did both.

Your first point is explaining that by showing both sides of a story or controversial topic, the public is a well-informed public which, again, it does not since the broadcasters are reluctant to show their own or the opposing opinion for fear that viewers may disagree with them. As stated in your rebuttal, "the government can not control what people do in response to laws or other things, like doctrines. Therefore, it is not the fault of the government if broadcasters were unwilling to share their opinions." This is untrue since legal penalty was a threat. As a result, this does make it the government's fault of broadcasters not wanting to share their opinion.

Secondly, I do partially agree with your second point. The public WILL be better informed and think critically when both sides of an argument are depicted. This is where I stop agreeing,"Even though both sides of topics are easy to find, people should not have to waste time and effort in attempts to find them. Instead, they should be able to go to one place to find both sides of an issue." This statement contradicts its self since you are clearly stating that they are easy to find YET they should look in one place to reduce time and effort. The problem with viewing an opinion from two sides instead of just one is that you get all of your facts and opinions from one source. If that broadcaster makes a mistake with the facts, then the viewer would not be informed in fact, they would have been better off not knowing anything about this topic then being misinformed. Not all broadcasters will be wrong showing both opinions but diverse sources help to provide more diverse facts which keeps the public even more informed.

In Red Lion vs FCC, Fred J. Cook demanded FREE airtime to refute the claims which is why the station demanded. The station stated that if Cook wanted free airtime he would have to pay the same price Billy James Hargis paid which is, in my opinion, fair since radio waves where scarce. As you said the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the FCC but because of the scarcity of the radio waves. "In view of the scarcity of broadcast frequencies, the Government's role in allocating those frequencies, and the legitimate claims of those unable without governmental assistance to gain access to those frequencies for expression of their views, we hold the regulations and ruling at issue here are both authorized by statute and constitutional." Some may argue that the Supreme Court did take into consideration the criticism. "...the legitimate claims of those unable without governmental assistance to gain access to those frequencies for expression of their views..." While they did, Billy James Hargis did have the ability to pay the amount being asked by Red Lion to air his counter.

The reason I brought up the Millennials instead of the older generations is that the Millenials are the future of the country. They are the ones who are voting and making decisions. The older generations also have access to these tools and they can and should use them.

Debate Round No. 3
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Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by IvanC 5 days ago
IvanC
What do I do to continue?
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