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The Regulation of Broadcasting Early Regulations The Wireless Ship Act of 1910 Required ships to have wireless under certain circumstances Radio Act of 1912 Reaction to the Titanic disaster in 1912 Ratified by 29 nations

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The Regulation of Broadcasting

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The Regulation of Broadcasting


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Early Regulations

  • The Wireless Ship Act of 1910

    • Required ships to have wireless under certain circumstances

  • Radio Act of 1912

    • Reaction to the Titanic disaster in 1912

    • Ratified by 29 nations

    • Eliminated the Marconi rule of not communicating with non-Marconi ships.


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Early Regulations

  • The Radio Act of 1912 marks first use of the word radio to describe wireless.

  • Still not broadcasting. Still only refers to point-to-point communication.


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Early Regulations

  • Radio Act of 1927

    • Response to chaos on the airwaves

    • Gave broadcasters “freedom of speech”

    • Established the Federal Radio Commission

      • 5 commissioners

    • Established the concept of “public interest, convenience and necessity.”

      • Phrase borrowed from the Railroad Act


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Early Regulations

  • The R.A. 1927

    • Established the authority of the government (FRC) to regulate broadcast content and technical specifications


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The Communications Act of 1934

  • Note change to “communications” from “radio”

  • Created the Federal Communications Commission

    • 7 commissioners – now back to 5

  • Established and expanded the FCC powers

  • Based on many principles from the R.A. ‘27


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The FCC

  • Bureaus

    Consumer & Governmental AffairsEnforcementInternationalMediaWireless TelecommunicationsWireline Competition


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The FCC

  • Offices

    Communications Business Opportunities  Engineering & TechnologyGeneral CounselInspector General Legislative Affairs Managing Director Media RelationsSecretary Strategic Planning & Policy Analysis Workplace Diversity


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The FCC

  • Regulation by raised eyebrow

  • Forfeitures

  • Suspensions and revocations


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The FCC

Steps in Licensing

Channel search and assignment

Engineering studies

Community Ascertainment of Needs

Construction Permit

Temporary Operations – Proofs of Performance

Full time license


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The FCC

  • Public Inspection files

    • Correspondence

    • License

    • Public affairs programming

  • Operating in the PICON


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Section 315

  • Equal Time

  • Candidates for public office

  • If the station sells commercial time to one candidate, it must sell time to all candidates for the same office at the same price.

  • Lowest unit rate


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Exceptions to Section 315

  • Bona fide

    • Newscasts

    • News interviews

    • On-the-spot coverage

    • Documentaries


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Section 312

  • Must sell time to candidates for Federal Offices.

  • Then all of 315 applies


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Personal Attack Rule

  • If a candidate personally attacks (libels) another candidate-

    Station must notify the libeled candidate

    Provide tape and transcript

    Provide opportunity to respond


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Fairness Doctrine

  • Broadcasters have an obligation to provide fair and balanced coverage of controversial issues of importance to the community.

  • Never codified

    • NAB successfully lobbies to keep it out of the books


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Obscenity

  • Differences between obscenity, indecency and profanity

  • Covered under Section 326 of the United States Code (not the Communications Act)


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Obscenity

  • Because broadcasting is obtrusive – coming into your home uninvited.

  • Because the public owns the airwaves.

  • Because broadcasters are trustees of the airwaves and must operate in the PICON


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Obscenity

  • The Miller Standard

    • Would the average person, applying contemporary community standards, find the work patently offensive?

    • Does the work, taken as a whole, appeal to prurient interests?

    • Does the work lack legitimate artistic, literary or scientific value?


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Conditional Freedom of Speech

  • Not on the air!

  • Must be true.

  • Fair comment.

    • People in the public light.


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