The First Amendment under Siege: The Politics of Broadcast Regulation

The First Amendment under Siege: The Politics of Broadcast Regulation

The First Amendment under Siege: The Politics of Broadcast Regulation

The First Amendment under Siege: The Politics of Broadcast Regulation

Synopsis

"...more than a history of broadcast litigation, although that is one of its contributions. It is primarily an interesting and provocative exploration of the politics of broadcast regulation." - Journalism History

Excerpt

The special position that the First Amendment is granted in our system is a recognition of the paramount importance of the free exchange of ideas to self-government. Freedom of speech and press provisions of the First Amendment are designed to prevent interference with the exchange of information if citizens are to make intelligent decisions when choosing public officials and shaping policy.

To an increasing degree, the American people receive that information from electronic media. Between 60 and 70 percent now claim that television is their primary source of news. But unlike newspapers and other print media, the broadcasting industry has been subject, almost from birth, to federal regulation. The central question becomes the extent to which the First Amendment permits the regulation of broadcasting.

Regulation is justified because the number of frequencies available in the broadcasting spectrum is limited. Theoretically, anyone with a printing press can print and distribute a newspaper, magazine, or handbill, but not everyone who wants to broadcast is able to do so. While limited access to broadcasting facilities justified regulation as the industry developed, some now argue that current technology allows substantially greater access to broadcasting and that constitutional distinctions between print . . .

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