Government Structures in the U.S.A. and the Sovereign States of the Former U.S.S.R: Power Allocation among Central, Regional, and Local Governments

By James E. Hickey Jr.; Alexej Ugrinsky | Go to book overview

PART V
COMMUNICATION AND NEWS

The ability of members of society to communicate with one another and to have access to news may influence greatly the government structure that evolves. By the same token, government regulation or control may either encourage or discourage communication and news access. Communication in a society (local, state, regional, or global) today may range from television (public, private, and cable), radio, and print (newspapers, magazines, and books) to computer (networks, programs, and databases). These traditional and innovative forms of communication are nowhere present, fostered, and protected to the degree, variety, and access that they are in the U.S.A. At the same time, nowhere has access and content of communication been more controlled than in the former U.S.S.R.

The U.S. Constitution safeguards news-gathering publication and access explicitly through the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of expression to an extent unknown in other countries. The news media rely primarily on private sources (newspapers, television, and computer services) augmented slightly by nonprofit public sources (for example, the Public Broadcasting System [PBS]). Prior to the breakup of the U.S.S.R., news, as a matter of government structure, was gathered, packaged, and disseminated exclusively by state organs ( TASS, Pravda, Izvestia, etc.).

Communication and news both in the U.S.A. and in the former U.S.S.R. are subject to great changes in the immediate decades ahead both technically, caused by development in satellites, computers, and information highways, and structurally, caused by the new world order and the emerging global economy.

Thomas W. Hazlett's paper addresses the difficult relationship of the U.S. government's regulation, deregulation, and reregulation of the cable television industry. His analysis focuses on such problems associated with reliance on the economic marketplace to provide communication as the tendency toward a natural monopoly and the related dangers for free and complete access to information that that tendency brings. He correctly urges the states of the former U.S.S.R. as they evolve into democracies and private market economies to be aware of the "mixed performance" of the U.S.A. in efficiently and effectively facilitating communication.

Stephen Hess in his paper relates the news media in the U.S.A. to

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