The Telecommunications Act of 1996: Its Impact on the Electronic Media of the 21st Century

By Hendricks, John Allen | Communications and the Law, June 1999 | Go to article overview

The Telecommunications Act of 1996: Its Impact on the Electronic Media of the 21st Century


Hendricks, John Allen, Communications and the Law


Since the beginning of the 20th century, the U.S. government has enacted various pieces of legislation that regulate the communications industry. Limited space on the electromagnetic spectrum has been the justification, or rationale, for regulating the communications industry.(1) The limited frequency space prevents anyone from actually owning any portion of the spectrum.(2) Proliferation of media other than broadcast, such as cable systems and the Internet, had weakened the limited-space argument. Along with amendments and revisions to regulatory legislation, there have been complete rewrites since the first communication legislation was enacted in 1910. Rapid technological advancements provided the requirement for such modifications and rewrites.

This article has two objectives. It first examines the development and enactment of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which is a complete overhaul of telecommunications regulation. Accordingly, it examines the political and social issues debated between the legislative and executive branches of government before the new legislation was signed into law.

Second, this article explores the new issues and implications created by the passage of the legislation and its effects on the telecommunications industry in the 21st century. This exploratory article highlights only portions of the telecommunications act that relate to broadcast or cable regulation. Other than acknowledging that telephone companies now can offer cable service, regulatory issues of the telephone industry in particular are not examined. Primarily, this article provides and examines highlights of regulatory changes relating to technology and programming issues in broadcasting and cable.

I. TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACT OF 1996(3)

Despite the amendments and revisions that have been added throughout the years, Congress saw no choice but to completely replace the obsolete Communications Act of 1934. Because communication technology has grown by leaps and bounds over the last few years, the Communications Act of 1934 was considered an antiquated document. Edmund L. Andrews states that advances "in technology and rapid change in the marketplace have made [the 1934 act] increasingly outdated and, many experts believe, [the 1934 act] has been harmful to competition and consumers."(4) For that reason, Congress decided to replace the 1934 act with a new, more modern piece of legislation that would adequately regulate the electronic media of the 21st century.

While attempting to change current telecommunications regulatory legislation, both the Senate and the House of Representatives passed bills. Both bills had basically the same objective: "to allow all telecommunications companies to compete head to head in one another's markets, with as little government regulation as possible."(5) The leading supporters of the Senate bill, S. 652, included former Commerce Committee Chairman Larry Pressler (R-South Dakota) and Ernest Hollings (D-South Carolina).(6) The Senate version of the bill passed 81 to 18 on June 15, 1995.(7) On August 4, 1995, the House of Representatives; passed its version of the telecommunications bill (H.R. 1555) with a vote of 305 to 117.(8) The leading supporters of that bill were House Commerce Committee Chairman Thomas Bliley Jr. (R-Virginia) and Telecommunications and Finance Subcommittee Chairman Jack Fields (R-Texas).(9)

A primary objective of both the Senate and House bills was to "promote competition in the telephone and cable markets while easing regulations on cable prices and broadcast-station ownership."(10) The debate for such a bill was "propelled by the widespread sentiment in Congress and the telecommunications industry that legislation is needed to spur competition and investment in advanced telecommunications networks."(11) A House and Senate conference was established to reconcile the differences between the two bills.(12) The conference consisted of eleven senators and thirty-four representatives. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Telecommunications Act of 1996: Its Impact on the Electronic Media of the 21st Century
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.