ERIC Number: ED216401
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-Feb
Reference Count: 0
Public Broadcasting and the Public Forum Doctrine.
A compelling argument can be made for the "public forum doctrine," which states that public broadcasting stations licensed to government bodies have a greater obligation than commercial stations under the First Amendment to transcend political and personal biases in making programing decisions. It is also equally important that government officials, having delegated editorial authority to public broadcast programers, do not attempt to arbitrarily interfere with the programer's decisions. In the latter case, the courts may be able to provide relief to station officials whose authority is usurped. Examples of court cases that extend these arguments include the Supreme Court's 1973 decision in "CBS v. Democratic National Committee," which delineated what might be considered as a public forum, and the court litigation related to a 1980 broadcast of a controversial "docudrama" on public television ("Death of a Princess," the story of the execution of a Saudi Arabian princess and her lover). However, imposing the judgments of the courts or the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on all of a public station's programing decisions would be antithetical to numerous Supreme Court decisions that have affirmed the right of all broadcasters to retain broad editorial discretion. Thus, a non-statutory approach must be established in order to encourage public stations to base programing decisions on public interest rather than political considerations. A citizens' panel is one possible solution to the dilemma. (RL)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Public Broadcasting; Public Radio; Supreme Court
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Western Speech Communication Association (Denver, CO, February 19-23, 1982).