FCC Suspend - Not Abolish - Personal Attack, Political Editorial Rules; NAB, RTNDA 'Astonished' - Radio World

FCC Suspend - Not Abolish - Personal Attack, Political Editorial Rules; NAB, RTNDA 'Astonished'

FCC Suspend - Not Abolish - Personal Attack, Political Editorial Rules; NAB, RTNDA 'Astonished'
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While the FCC has suspended its long-disputed personal attack and political editorial rules during the upcoming election period, an order released Wednesday requests stations keep the commission informed on their action regarding these issues.
The suspension only lasts until Dec. 3 to give the agency time to gather further public comments on the rules. But in the meantime, the FCC said stations that want to editorialize in favor or opposition to a political candidate or air material that may come within the scope of the personal attack rule can do so over the next 60 days "unfettered by what broadcasters claim have been the confining restraints of these two rules."
The FCC also sought public comment from groups and individuals who favor keeping the Fairness Doctrine.
NAB and RTNDA believe the rules are archaic and they oppose the FCC's action.
RTNDA President Barbara Cochran called the FCC's order "incomprehensible", while NAB President/CEO Eddie Fritts said it was "outrageous" and "astonishing".
The personal attack rule requires stations to notify a person whose honesty, character or integrity is attacked and provide that person a chance to respond. The political editorial rule requires any licensee that endorses or opposes a candidate to provide opponents with notice and an opportunity to respond. The rules are among the last vestiges of the Fairness Doctrine, which the commission stopped enforcing in 1987.
The FCC's action came in response to NAB and RTNDA's petition to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit asking for the court to force the FCC to repeal the personal attack and political editorial rules. The court has asked both organizations to respond the FCC's action by Friday.
Leslie Stimson

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