It is necessary for all issues to be broadcast, equally and fairly. This is important, so that the public can receive all sides of the issues, to enable them to make an informed decision.
Far too often, the public debate is crafted by those who have the most money. The Fairness Doctrine allows all perspectives a venue, and not just those who have the biggest wallets. The "market" chases money, not necessarily sound public reasoning. Finally, the public "discourse" is far too often dominated by screaming heads, backed by rich entities that have an agenda that may not be best for the public at large.
Today, it is very hard to get level-headed honest news from public services. Without something at least attempting to manage this problem, it would be even harder to get balanced news to the public. While the Fairness Doctrine could stand to be updated, it is keeping the United States from becoming completely biased in the news.
Without the Fairness Doctrine, only those individuals and entities with sufficient wealth could afford to have their views broadcast to the people. The views of less-wealthy citizens and entities would be vastly underrepresented (if present in public discourse at all). Balanced public discourse can only be achieved through regulation, which the Fairness Doctrine attempts to do.
The Fairness Doctrine inherently privileges poor ideas, because every idea must receive equal attention. This takes away from the time spent to debate good ideas. There is only a limited amount of time for public discourse to take place, and some filtering is necessary. In addition, freedom of speech includes freedom to not speak about any ideas that one does not wish to include.
I believe the Fairness doctrine is necessary to maintain a fair and balanced media. Without the Fairness doctrine there is no way to ensure an unbiased source of information. People need an objective view of events in order to form their own opinions. Without such, rather than news the media would spew propaganda. The market is not a sufficient force in establishing a balanced public discourse because other nations (i.e. China) have demonstrated the ease of controlling the media and regulating content.
I totally agree that the Fairness doctrine is necessary in establishing in a balanced public discourse because it gives the freedom of speech to all individuals. It also helps in expressing one's view on the topic in public giving a democratic meaning to an individual. It gives rise to various controversial topics which is necessary for the citizens of the state.
Although the Fairness Doctrine has faced much criticism and eventually been rescinded, many aspects of it were very helpful to political discourse. Of course, some topics - global warming exists, the president is a US citizen and 9/11 was carried out by Al-Qaeda - are well-established, and don't need to be "refuted" by fringe pundits or conspiracy theorists. But reasoned debate - or at least the presence of both sides where two exist - would be a welcome change from the many biased sources we have today, giving too much heat and too little light.
I disagree with the Fairness Doctrine ever being applied to our media. Freedom of the press is part of our fundamental freedom of speech, not a power reserved for an elite few elected officials or paid privileged members of the press. In today's climate of multiple media sources and a larger market for obtaining information, there is no justification, whatsoever, for imposing the Fairness Doctrine on broadcast, print, or electronic media. The marketplace of ideas should be a free market. No governmental or political party oversight is required to impose a "balance" of viewpoints. The broadcast time, electronic bandwidth, or print space is private property, which should not be subject to government confiscation.
I am a big believer in letting all the ideas be brought forward in honest debates with the audience deciding which ones make the most sense. Talk show hosts that do not know what they are talking about soon lose market share and their shows are cancelled.
There are many ways to evade the Fairness Doctrine. For instance, you can give "equal time" to two different points of view on a television interview, but, by bringing in one person who is better prepared or more informed than the other, or using loaded questions, you can easily convey only one point of view.
Market forces will not dictate that a balanced public discourse will, in the end, be the net result. People these days will hear what they want to hear, not what they need to hear. No one pays to hear something they don't want to hear or don't like. They want their own views validated. Market forces will also ensure that powerful interests will impose their views on people, until a majority agrees on those views.
The market is a sufficient force in establishing a balanced public discourse. If we don't think we are getting balanced opinions, we can change the channel or put down the newspaper. Or, we can not use the products that are advertised on that particular show or in that paper.
The Fairness Doctrine, introduced as policy in 1949, was used as a tool to allow all points of view. While it has gone through stages, the provisions which were in effect were removed in 1985 because it violated free speech. In other words, you should be able to broadcast whatever you wish on your radio station, and not have to cater to every radical or differing point of view. Would it create a balanced public discourse? Absolutely not; instead of providing the alternate point of view, you would have a line, down the block, of different perspectives, all demanding their right to be heard on your radio station. And at the end of the day, no one would listen to your broadcasts anymore. On a side note, just remember, the Fairness Doctrine only seems to be applied to radio...why is TV left out? If you can answer that question, you'll understand why the Fairness Doctrine is unfair.
Conservative radio works; Liberal radio doesn't. The fairness doctrine would be like regulating the number of McDonald's because it's not fair a vegetarian fast chain isn't as successful.
Nothing in life is fair and we do not need a fairness doctrine to make everything balanced. If we want to be fair we should all live in two hundred thousand dollar homes and we should all drive the nicest cars and eat the same food and work the same jobs and it will never be that way.
The reason is that the Fairness Doctrine was created at a time where the American public had few options and choice. TV was dominated by the "Big Three" networks, which garnered nearly all the viewership. Today, consumers have access to a myriad of television channels through regular airwaves, cable, or satellite. Additionally, with the ascent of the internet and blogging along with cell phone services like Twitter, one can subscribe to a much broader spectrum and diversity of thought on any issue, including the controversial subjects which the Fairness Doctrine sought to address. The Fairness Doctrine has served its use for the time it was adopted in, and now it is time to "retire" it by removing it as a mandatory requirement governing only the pubic radio and TV realms. Market forces have already taken over and we need to trust that the democratic system will allow varying viewpoints to adapt, evolve, and coexist with each other.
Market forces allow for people to express their opinion through television, radio, the internet. Market forces do not restrict any individual from achieving their opinion. In fact, market forces encourage good public discourse and they reward it. With talk Radio, those who fill the airwaves do so because people demand it. There is nothing unfair about market oriented dialogue.