Category Archives: Fairness Doctrine

Why the Fairness Doctrine is totally totally totally unnecessary

Ian Gallagher responded in the comments:

It’s confusing to me when I hear people call for government to stay out of the broadcasting business. Broadcasting as we know it would not exist were it not for government involvement in assigning exclusive use of portions of the public airwaves and enforcing those rights against any encroachers. By contrast, newspapers don’t rely on the exclusive use of public property to provide service. If the government owned all of the printing presses in the country and gave them out on an exclusive basis to certain selected citizens, the analogy to broadcasting would be more accurate.This government-created system permits the government to impose fiduciary duties on broadcasters that it could not impose on newspapers under the First Amendment.

. A license permits broadcasting, but the licensee has no constitutional right to be the one who holds the license or to monopolize a radio frequency to the exclusion of his fellow citizens. There is nothing in the First Amendment which prevents the Government from requiring a licensee to share his frequency with others of his community and present those views which would otherwise, by necessity, be barred from the airwaves

No one has a First Amendment right to monopolize a broadcast frequency. Unlike newspaper owners, every broadcaster knows going in that his ability to pursue his private interests are constrained by the obligation to serve the public

And we should not be deterred in this critical task by those who would use specious constitutional arguments

Dear Ian,

If you look into the industry literature, you will discover that wireless, coaxial cable, and optical fiber offer limitless bandwidth for digital signals. The ability of equipment to encode and compress information in ever smaller slices is the limiting factor. How will the inviolable wireless frequencies be determined? Shall we use the frequency bands that were necessary for 1930’s radio and television technology or those that are necessary now, or those that will become possible in the future? I don’t know whether you are from the US or England or Titan, where I live. When I talk specifics, I will talk about one of these places, and not about the others.

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