Public affairs programming on television has decreased by more than half in the past 10 years thanks to deregulation by the Federal Communications Commission, says a public interest group started by Ralph Nader.

The group, Essential Information, said there has been a 51 percent decrease in issues-oriented public affairs TV programs since 1979. The group called for re-establishment of the FCC's Fairness Doctrine, which the agency repealed in 1987, and for a return of so-called 5-5-10 rules that required broadcasters to devote certain percentages of their broadcasting hours to non-entertainment programming.The report, by Jim Donahue, was attacked immediately by broadcasters and by an FCC official who said the findings were "incredible."

FCC spokesman John Kamp said the report "sounds terribly bogus."

The Fairness Doctrine for 40 years had required broadcasters to cover controversial issues.