Federal Communications Law Journal

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Citation

51 Federal Communications Law Journal 281 (1999)


The fairness doctrine has long been eliminated as required conduct for broadcasters in the United States. When enforced, it meant both being required to discuss controversial issues and to represent them in a fair way. In Western Europe, where only public service broadcasters existed until quite recently, a different doctrine emerged—the doctrine of impartiality. Under this doctrine, broadcasters were to refrain from being partial in any way. In Israel, a hybrid solution was adopted: While the system was designed in the Western European way, the courts have been insisting for years that the American fairness doctrine is the norm for achieving political neutrality. This study describes this phenomenon and the way it emerged, and questions its contribution to free speech in a volatile democracy.