Fairness doctrine for broadcasters
The fairness doctrine for broadcasters is discussed here and here, and also on Uncommon Descent and Fatheaded Ed's blog.
For various reasons, I am opposed to an unlimited fairness doctrine for broadcasters. I think that a requirement of, say, equal time for "conservative" and "liberal" talk shows would be too great a burden for broadcasters. Also, it is often difficult to define what is "liberal" and what is "conservative." However, I am in favor of an "equal time" or "right to reply" rule requiring that individuals who are personally attacked on a broadcasting station be given a few minutes to respond. The case in which the Supreme Court upheld the fairness doctrine, Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC (1969), was about such a requirement that an individual be given an opportunity to respond. In Miami Herald Publishing Co. v. Tornillo (1974), the Supreme Court inexplicably struck down a similar "right to reply" law for newspapers. These two cases are discussed here (Red Lion is item #5 and Miami Herald is item #8).
A common argument against restoring the fairness doctrine for broadcasters is that we have an abundance of broadcasting stations today, but that argument does not hold water. Some stations are going to be more popular than others and there is nothing in the First Amendment that says that the more popular stations are more equal than others in regard to a right to control what reaches the largest audiences. Also, ownership of broadcasting stations is concentrated in a few hands (that is also an issue which MORA seeks to address). Still, though, I feel that the disadvantages of an unlimited fairness doctrine for broadcasters outweigh the advantages. This specious argument of an abundance of sites is also raised in opposition to my proposal for a fairness doctrine for blogs.
My proposal of a fairness doctrine for blogs -- which would generally prohibit arbitrary censorship of visitors' comments -- is based on the following points: (1) the doctrine would not be a burden to bloggers because comment space is unlimited; (2) some blogs have become de facto major public forums; (3) blogs are being authoritatively cited by court opinions, official news services, etc.; and (4) BVD-clad bloggers are seeking special privileges -- e.g., a "reporter's privilege" that would allow them to keep their confidential sources secret -- and so should accept some responsibilities. I have also proposed a fairness-doctrine exemption for bloggers who post prominent notices saying that they practice arbitrary censorship. A fairness doctrine for blogs is eminently fair, practical, constitutional, democratic, and ethical.