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Media and Law

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Brian Altenhofen

on 29 January 2014

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Transcript of Media and Law

Media and Law
Types of Regulations
Binding rules passed by legislature (e.g., Congress)
Enforced through executive power (e.g., FCC)
Applied or adjudicated by courts (e.g., Supreme Court)
How to structure & regulate media for public good
Often turned into laws to make them legally binding
“Public policy consists of political decisions for implementing programs to achieve societal goals”
Agreements about technical characteristics of media (NTSC -> ATSC)

Guarantees come from combination of Bill of Rights
The 4th Amendment - citizens cannot be subject to “unreasonable search and seizures”; need “probable cause”
Aimed at protecting citizens from government intrusion
Right to be ‘let alone'
Threats from government & private industry
Industry collects & sells personal information (credit bureaus)
Government initiatives restrict privacy
Patriot Act; warrant-less wiretaps
Monitoring of online activities, including cell-phone records
Corporate intrusions
Credit bureaus; corporations tracking consumer habits
Universal Services
Access to more than phone?
Internet access added to universal service debate
Congress failed to set goals for advanced services
Some community services available only through communications media
Public libraries
Public health programs
Child services
Government services increasingly online
The Second Digital Divide: preparing people to make effective use of access when they get it

Policy Making
Review major cases
Interpret laws & rules
Enforce interpretations
Committees gather information
Writes communication laws
State & Local
Public Utility Commissions
Protect & regulate local communication assets

First Amendment
Freedom of speech
Speech and media content should be free from government restrictions – “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press”
Protects speech
In person or through media
All speech?
Marketplace of ideas
Libel (written) or slander (spoken)
False speech intended to damage reputation
Free Speech Limits
“language that describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community
standards … sexual or excretory activities or organs"
George Carlin and FCC
Content Self-Regulation
Film ratings allow industry to self-regulate
TV ratings & V-chip
TCA 1996 requires V-chips
TV industry implements rating system
Combines regulation & self-regulation

Intellectual Property
Media Ownership
Single company controls market for goods
Handful of companies control market
Concentration leads to abuse of market power
Restraint of trade
Barriers to entry

1996 Act
Deregulated conglomeration rules
Permits widespread cross-ownership
Allowed telecommunications companies and content companies to merge (TV & phone companies)
Widespread integration of film studios, cable and broadcasting
Conglomeration of ISPs, mobile and phone

Vertical integration
Increase in producer-distributor conglomeration
Horizontal integration
TV/Radio: no limit on number of stations owned
TV: can own stations reaching 39 percent of total market
Cross-ownership in local markets permitted
Single owner: radio, television, cable, newspaper properties
Local dailies consolidate
Joint operating agreements on the rise
Exclusive rights to invention
20 years in most cases
People who create works share in economic benefits
Intended to promote science, arts
Copyright Act of 1790 – 14 years with option to renew another 14 years. Eventually 28 years, then 50 years + life
Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act (1998): life of the author plus 70 years
Fair Use
Academic & non-commercial uses
Personal uses
FCC and private firms work together to establish technical standards for media
National TV System Committee (NTSC) standard
HDTV—new digital high-definition TV standard
Computer interoperability
Phone systems: GSM vs. CDMA
International standards
International Telecommunications Union (ITU)

Policy Making
Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
Common carriers
Regulates broadcasting, satellite, cable, telecommunications
National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA)
Multilateral trade in media
Equal access in the US
Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Privacy policies
Monitors and regulates advertising, especially to children
Justice Dept.
General laws applying to all communications
Ownership concentration
Full transcript