Broadcasting's Deregulated Future

March 9, 1979

Report Outline
Forces of Change in Broadcasting
Broadcasting as a Public Trust
Technology's Deregulatory Potential
Special Focus

Forces of Change in Broadcasting

Proposals to Drop FCC's Rules on Radio

Deregulation fever has hit broadcasting, and the ensuing debate about the role of the free market versus that of government regulation is likely to dominate discussions of broadcasting policy for several years. Deregulation of television was the theme of a conference on network television held Feb. 2–3 at the University of California at Los Angeles. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which regulates all broadcasting, is currently drawing up a plan to deregulate radio, as a test for the possibility of lifting much of the regulation of television and other aspects of broadcasting, including cable TV.

In the House of Representatives, a new version of a bill introduced last year to rewrite the Communications Act of 1934, the basic law of broadcasting, is being drafted under the guidance of Rep. Lionel Van Deerlin, D-Calif., chairman of the Communications Subcommittee. His aim is to make broadcasting more responsive to market forces, and observers say there is a good chance of passage sometime in this session of Congress or the next.

“For the first time in 50 years of regulation, we stand on the brink of major changes in the regulatory framework governing telecommunications,” the UCLA conference was told by Judge David L. Bazelon of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the court that hears most appeals related to the FCC. Bazelon's message was that regulation grew out of the government's desire for broadcasting to serve the public interest rather than the station owners' profit interest, but it has not worked that way. Instead, Bazelon said, regulation has often been used to protect entrenched economic interests against competition from outsiders.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Apr. 16, 2004  Broadcast Indecency
Mar. 28, 2003  Movie Ratings
Nov. 17, 1995  Sex, Violence and the Media
Feb. 19, 1993  School Censorship
Dec. 20, 1991  The Obscenity Debate
Dec. 07, 1990  Does Cable TV Need More Regulation?
May 16, 1986  Pornography
Jan. 04, 1985  The Modern First Amendment
Oct. 19, 1979  Pornography Business Upsurge
Mar. 09, 1979  Broadcasting's Deregulated Future
Mar. 21, 1973  Pornography Control
May 17, 1972  Violence in the Media
Jan. 21, 1970  First Amendment and Mass Media
Jul. 05, 1967  Prosecution and the Press
Jun. 28, 1961  Peacetime Censorship
Apr. 12, 1961  Censorship of Movies and TV
Dec. 23, 1959  Regulation of Television
Jul. 29, 1959  Control of Obscenity
Jul. 27, 1955  Bad Influences on Youth
Mar. 21, 1952  Policing the Comics
Apr. 12, 1950  Censorship of Motion Pictures
Sep. 20, 1939  Censorship of Press and Radio
Regulation and Deregulation
Regulation and Legal Issues