The Strange Life and Death of the Fairness Doctrine: Tracing the Decline of Positive Freedoms in American Policy Discourse

Victor Pickard


The Fairness Doctrine, one of the most famous and controversial media policies ever enacted, suffered a final deathblow in August 2011 when the Federal Communications Commission permanently struck it from the books. However, the Doctrine continues to be invoked by proponents and detractors alike. Using mixed methods, this study historically contextualizes the Fairness Doctrine while drawing attention to how it figures within contemporary regulatory debates. By tracing over time the shifting ideologies and discourses surrounding the Fairness Doctrine, we can see how political conflict shapes the normative foundations of core media policies, especially those involving positive freedoms.


Fairness Doctrine, positive freedoms, media policy, media history

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