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MEDIA REGULATION: KEY DATES & ISSUES Lecture notes for Media & Society Zack Furness.

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Presentation on theme: "MEDIA REGULATION: KEY DATES & ISSUES Lecture notes for Media & Society Zack Furness."— Presentation transcript:

1 MEDIA REGULATION: KEY DATES & ISSUES Lecture notes for Media & Society Zack Furness

2 Wireless Ship Act of 1910 States that large ships need to have a radio on board

3 Titanic error…

4 Radio Act of 1912 Says that large ships need to have a radio…and it needs to be turned ON, with a full-time operator at the helm.

5 Radio Act of 1912 In addition to being a response to the Titanic disaster, this piece of legislation also does the following: 1. Establishes government’s right to regulate the airwaves 2. Gives broadcasting priority to the military

6 Radio Act of 1927 Response to Federal court ruling – Dept. of Commerce was deemed unable to continue governing radio Creates the Federal Radio Commission (FRC) to do the following: Licensing – By 1926 there were 15,111 amateur stations, 1,902 ship stations, 536 broadcasters, etc. Regulate for public good – “public interest, convenience, and necessity” BUT… Thrown together without significant debate Left key issues unresolved Favored profit model of commercial broadcasting at the expense of other possible models

7 Communications Act of 1934 Created the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) Allowed govt. to regulate wired and wireless communications on a nation-wide basis Strengthens the ad hoc 1927 Radio Act Radio corporations stage a big PR campaign prior to the bill getting passed…they want the commercial model preserved for profits. The Wagner-Hatfield amendment would have given 25% of all radio broadcasting facilities to non-profit institutions and organizations (primarily educational). It was voted down. Sold as a New Deal program, but was it for the benefit of the public?

8 Telecommunications Act of 1996 Key provisions: Allows for cross-industry competition in new ways Relaxes restrictions on ownership in each area Key Effects: New wave of temporary competition Increasing consolidation of industries and concentration of ownership Increased profitability for the winners

9 1996 Telecom Act – Deregulation Just some of the rules scrapped by the 1996 bill: A local limit of 1 AM station plus 1 FM station and a national limit of 20 AM plus 20 FM stations (40 total). Now unlimited Corporations limited to ownership of 12 local TV stations. Prohibited ownership of a local radio or television station and a major local daily newspaper Now only minor restrictions A company can own TV stations reaching no more than a 25% share of U.S. TV households. Now up to 45% Broadcast license renewed every 5 years. Now 8 years, with much less burden to get re-licensed

10 1996 Telecom Act – Deregulation Digital Spectrum giveaway to big media corporations: Whereas the public owns the airwaves, corporations were given the digital ‘airwaves’ without being charged a dime The FCC estimated that had the licenses been auctioned off they would have been worth $70 billion to the public Senator Dole called it “the biggest giveaway of the century. Here we are, trying to balance the budget, cutting welfare, cutting other programs, and about to give a big handout here to the rich, the powerful” Broadcasters still won’t give up the analog spectrum, despite and the FCC won’t force them (could be used for emergency services, education, indy media, etc.)

11 1996 Telecom Act – Myth vs. Reality Myth: Promised to create more competition, more diversity, lower prices, and more jobs. Reality: The public got more media concentration, less diversity, and higher prices. Example: Over 10 years, the legislation was supposed to save consumers $550 billion ($333 billion in lower long-distance rates, $32 billion in local phone, and $78 billion in cable bills). Cable rates surged by 50% and local phone rates went up more than 20%. Example: Industries said it would add 1.5 million jobs and boost the economy by $2 trillion. By 2003, companies shed half a million jobs and their market values had fallen by about $2 trillion.

12 1996 Telecom Act – No Public Info In December 1995, a USA Today/IntelliQuest survey showed that about half of the US population never heard of the telecommunication bill (it passed 2 months later).USA Today/IntelliQuest In the year before the bill was passed, just 19 minutes of air time was devoted to the bill on all of the major TV networks combined. Not even a single minute was spent on the digital spectrum provision of the bill (a $70 billion givaway to corporations). Of the sparse articles published in newspapers in the year prior, most articles were not front page stories – typically they were printed in the ‘Business’ or ‘Finance’ sections.

13 Real Effects of the 1996 Bill Corporate Winners – Ex. Clear Channel Largest radio company in the US – Once owned over 1200 stations (the limit used to be 40). Now around 850. Owns the country's largest syndication service, Premiere Networks. $6 billion in revenue in 2011. Has contributed to substantial drop in the number of minority station owners, homogenization of play lists, and less local news.

14 Real Effects of the 1996 Bill Push back against the industry & FCC in 2003 For examples: Prometheus Radio Project v. FCC But, the same situation for most of us Roughly 95% of the households with access to cable are served by only one cable company Skyrocketing cable and phone bills Virtually no public oversight over digital realm Still have little ability to use the analog spectrum for broadcasting Still subject to un-free market rules, regulations & norms


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