Analysis & Conclusions
The Supreme Court decisions outlined in the previous chapter have held consistently that the public interest in mass communication is partially defined by access to a free and open marketplace of ideas. The decisions have all held that the public’s right to information outweighs, to some degree, private corporations’ rights to unchecked control of the flow of information. These decisions range the spectrum of one-tomany media, from print to broadcast to cable.
The four legacy media decisions illustrate several fundamental points of congruence between the First Amendment and network neutrality rules. First, none of the restrictions enforced upon the media in these cases prohibited those media from transmitting proprietary content or content of their own choosing. In other words, none of the regulations censored any media-produced content (regulation is not censorship). Second, in each case the Court found that the government’s interest in promoting diverse content outweighed the rights of the network owners to exercise sole discretion over information; the government has a strong interest in ensuring that citizens have access to diverse information (government interest in ensuring citizen access to information). Third, each of these policies affected the public’s access to information by regulating the networks’ transmission components, or their logical layers. Thus, depending on the medium, some level of non-discriminatory regulation is allowable (support for non-discrimination at the logical layer). Each is these findings if explored in detail to follow.