The Future of “Fair and Balanced”: The Fairness Doctrine, Net Neutrality, and the Internet

By: Sasha Leonhardt

In recent months, different groups–pundits, politicians, and even an FCC Commissioner–have discussed resurrecting the now-defunct Fairness Doctrine and applying it to Internet communication. This iBrief responds to the novel application of the Doctrine to the Internet in three parts. First, this iBrief will review the history and legal rationale that supported the Fairness Doctrine, with a particular emphasis on emerging technologies. Second, this iBrief applies these legal arguments to the evolving structure of the Internet. Third, this iBrief will consider what we can learn about Net Neutrality through an analogy to the Fairness Doctrine. This iBrief concludes that, while the Fairness Doctrine is not appropriate to use on the Internet in its present form, the arguments for the Doctrine could affect the debate surrounding Net Neutrality, depending on how the Obama Administration implements Net Neutrality.

Cite: 2009 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 008

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