The Fairness Doctrine was a policy of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), introduced in 1949, that required the holders of broadcast licenses to both present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was, in the Commission's view, honest, equitable and balanced. The 1949 Commission Report served as the foundation for the Fairness Doctrine since it had previously established two more forms of regulation onto broadcasters. These two duties were to provide adequate coverage to public issues and that coverage must be fair in reflecting opposing views.The Fairness Doctrine was subject to longstanding criticism, and was eventually repealed in the 1980s; yet attempts to legislate the doctrine have been introduced on numerous occasions since then.
And now, net neutrality:
Network neutrality is a principle proposed for users' access to networks participating in the Internet. The principle advocates no restrictions by Internet service providers and governments on content, sites, platforms, the kinds of equipment that may be attached, and the modes of communication...In the US particularly, but elsewhere as well, the possibility of regulations designed to mandate the neutrality of the Internet has been subject to fierce debate.Before we go any further, let's acknowledge upfront that both the Fairness Doctrine and net neutrality are complex and controversial issues, and that it is impossible to properly define them in the space of a paragraph (despite the fact that it's precisely what I have tried to do!). However, as a matter of concept, purpose, and intent, I think we can fairly characterize each:
- The Fairness Doctrine was government regulation, via the FCC, over radio to mandate a level of balance and/or equality in content.
- Net neutrality is government regulation, via the FCC, over the Internet to mandate neutral treatment over content.