Differences in free speech rights for print and broadcast media

Differences in free speech rights for print and broadcast media (such as Fairness Doctrine and FCC Indecency standard) 

By Katherine Woods

Free speech is a constitutional right but is often misunderstood or abused, laws such as the Fairness Doctrine and the FCC Indecency standard help to fairly and decently regulate what is said through the media.

FCC stands for The Federal Communications Commission, this is a program run by the government that helps to regulate the use of profanity, vulgar language, and other material that has no educational value. The FCC works towards six goals in the areas of broadband, competition, the spectrum, the media, public safety and homeland security.

The Fairness Doctrine was a policy of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), introduced in 1949 and ended in the 1980s and did not apply to print media. It required the holders of broadcast licenses to show both sides of the “story”. This included any topic that was considered substantial, controversial or concerning politics.The doctrine did not require equal time for opposing views but required that contrasting viewpoints be presented. The main goal was to inform the public with more than one viewpoint, and to remain unbiased.

In the end the Fairness Doctrine simply prevents bias media while the FCC prevents highly sexualized content from being aired, especially to younger audiences. This news clip from PBS News Hour talks about the extremes that the FCC is considering and has done to regulate indecency and how companies have fought back. Including internet websites, cable tv, and even phone companies.


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