Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2001


Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc./Taylor & Francis


In an era of sweeping deregulation of broadcast content, the Federal Communications Commission has retained its rules against licensees' deliberately distorting news. This article reviews the origins and codification of the distortion policy and presents the first quantitative analysis of the FCC's decisions in this area. The results indicate that the distortion policy is a largely symbolic regulation. The Commission's evidentiary requirements, burden of proof, changing definition of news and sometimes arbitrary reasoning erect formidable barriers to complainants. The study concludes with recommendations for rethinking the distortion rules in light of their First Amendment implications and the dramatic changes in broadcast news since the FCC set its distortion policy over 30 years ago.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Communication Law and Policy in 2001, available online:

Included in

Communication Commons



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