Communications Satellites: Global Change Agents

By Joseph N. Pelton; Robert J. Oslund et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIX
Regulating Communications Satellites
on the Way to Globalism
Robert J. Oslund
The George Washington University

sometimes you get the feeling that we are imposing on our very complex communication system … some rather primitive and patched-up procedures that we have inherited over the last few years.

—U. S. Senator Gale McGee (D-WY) (1962)

Communications satellite policy that guides the regulation of communications satellites should be viewed within the context of a broader historical continuum. As noted by Senator Gale McGee (D-WY), a former professor of history, during congressional hearings leading up to passage of the Communications Satellite Act of 1962, U. S. telecommunications policy has tended to be ad hoc in nature.

… From time to time, we have had occasion in here to wish that we might be able to do over from scratch some of our communications elements. Like Topsy, they just grew, beginning in the 1920s. And sometimes you get the feeling that we are imposing on our very complex communication system now some rather primitive and patched-up procedures that we have inherited over the last few years. And yet as a practical matter, it is very difficult to take the house all apart and put the bricks together again and come out with the right profile. Here we have a chance of putting together what we have learned and the little bit that we know in the satellite realm, to do this perhaps the right way; at least within the limitations of a human being, (see U. S. Congress, 1962)

The preceding chapter explored the historical continuum that has spanned a century-and-a-half transition from imperialism and colonialism toward globalism. This

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