Technologies of Telecommunications Law & Policy



This course introduces the traditional regulatory regimes used in these industries when they were perceived as separate (and largely static entities). In broadcasting the focus is on allocation, the public trust concept and licensing on the basis of comparative evaluations of applicants. The telephone segment explores exclusive franchises and rate of return regulation. In cable, local franchise and state regulation combine with federal restraints on growth (intended to protect broadcasters from cable).

The course also addresses the significant regulatory and reform initiatives that began to affect these industries in the 1970's and 1980's. During this period, the significance and potential for direct and intermodal competition began to be recognized at policy making levels and to some extent to be encouraged. In broadcasting, materials will note the movement toward bidding for spectrum; in cable it will cover the 1984 and 1992 Acts; in telephone it will involve both the events leading up to and following the AT&T divestiture and the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

Finally, the course explores the regulatory and deregulatory dilemmas encountered today. There remain three still largely separated regulatory systems, one for broadcast, one for telephone (extensively revised by the 1996 Act), and one for cable. These systems, however, encounter industries that are densely imploding, most dramatically in the area of interactive broadband, but in other areas, as well.