Dennis Patrick: Abolishing the Fairness Doctrine, A Policy Maker’s Perspective

A Lecture by Dennis Patrick, Chairman, Federal Communications Commission, 1987-89

Wed., July 18, 2007 @ 9:15– 10:30am

First Amendment Room, National Press Club, 529 14th Street NW * Washington, DC

Introduction by Dean Dan Polsby, George Mason University School of Law

On August 4, 1987, F.C.C. Chairman Dennis Patrick led the Commission to abolish the Fairness Doctrine governing radio and television broadcasters. While the FD had been condemned by a variety of legal scholars as violating the First Amendment, it was staunchly supported by a political coalition of liberals and conservatives, and Patrick’s policy to end it generated a firestorm. More importantly, perhaps, it triggered a laissez faire approach to media content that carried over to cable TV networks, satellite systems, and the Internet. The ultimate impact of the policy is still hotly debated. In this first person account, former Chairman Patrick explains the policy decision that preceded abolition, the reaction to it, and his thoughts on how media markets have fared in the wake of deregulation.

Article Published from this Lecture:

The Wall Street Journal on July 30, 2007, page A13

The Return of the Speech Police” by Dennis Patrick and Thomas Hazlett

Unedited transcript is available (PDF) Patrick.Speech.07.18.07.pdf

Download (PDF, Unknown)

Video available here:

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This entry is part 4 of 20 in the series Tullock Lecture Big Ideas About Information Series