* FCC acts to remove outdated, burdensome regulations
* Fairness Doctrine to be eliminated
By Jasmin Melvin
WASHINGTON, Aug 22 The U.S. Federal
Communications Commission is stripping 83 rules from its books
as part of its reform agenda and commitment to a request from
President Barack Obama earlier in the year to improve or remove
any rules that were out of date, the agency said on Monday.
Among the eliminated rules are Fairness Doctrine
regulations that were intended to promote honest, balanced
discussion of controversial issues when introduced in 1949.
But as more broadcast stations and cable channels became
available, the need to mandate a diversity of viewpoints eroded
and the rules were abolished in 1987. The FCC has not enforced
the rules in more than two decades, but they were never
officially taken off the books.
"As I have said, striking this from our books ensures there
can be no mistake that what has long been a dead letter remains
dead," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement.
Genachowski called the Fairness Doctrine an unnecessary
distraction with the potential to curb free speech.
The rules threatened to strip broadcasters' licenses if
they did not air opposing viewpoints. Their elimination
protects religious broadcasters, conservative talk radio and
others worried about the implications of the rules' return.
Other rules deleted included media-related regulations that
have not been in effect for years. The FCC said the 83 rules
eliminated will not have any significant impact on broadcast
The FCC is expected to adopt an order as early as Wednesday
to send to the Federal Register. Once the order is published in
the Federal Register, the rules will officially be removed from
the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations.
Genachowski directed FCC staff in January to consider the
costs of regulations and their impact on innovation after Obama
ordered government agencies to review their rules -- even
though the mandate did not extend to independent agencies.
The chairman welcomed an executive order in July that
called on independent agencies such as the FCC, the Federal
Trade Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission to
review and streamline their existing regulations.
More than 50 outdated rules have already been eliminated as
part of the FCC's reform agenda aimed at removing obsolete
regulations and revising others to keep up with new
Review of existing rules continues at the FCC, Genachowski
said, as well as other steps to foster competition, investment
and job creation.
(Reporting by Jasmin Melvin; editing by Andre Grenon)