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The Regulation of Broadcasting

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  1. The Regulation of Broadcasting

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. Early Regulations • The R.A. 1927 • Established the authority of the government (FRC) to regulate broadcast content and technical specifications

  6. 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

  7. The FCC • Bureaus Consumer & Governmental Affairs Enforcement International Media Wireless Telecommunications Wireline Competition

  8. The FCC • Offices Communications Business Opportunities  Engineering & TechnologyGeneral CounselInspector General Legislative Affairs Managing Director Media RelationsSecretary Strategic Planning & Policy Analysis Workplace Diversity

  9. The FCC • Regulation by raised eyebrow • Forfeitures • Suspensions and revocations

  10. 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

  11. The FCC • Public Inspection files • Correspondence • License • Public affairs programming • Operating in the PICON

  12. 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

  13. Exceptions to Section 315 • Bona fide • Newscasts • News interviews • On-the-spot coverage • Documentaries

  14. Section 312 • Must sell time to candidates for Federal Offices. • Then all of 315 applies

  15. 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

  16. 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

  17. Obscenity • Differences between obscenity, indecency and profanity • Covered under Section 326 of the United States Code (not the Communications Act)

  18. 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

  19. 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?

  20. Conditional Freedom of Speech • Not on the air! • Must be true. • Fair comment. • People in the public light.