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Media Law

Media Law encompasses laws regulating radio and TV broadcasting to assure satisfactory service and to prevent chaos. Because broadcasting by its nature transcends state boundaries, the Federal government is largely responsible for regulating broadcasts including the laws governing the content of the programs broadcast (even if the television station is situated within the state).

The FCC was established by the Communications Act of 1934 and is responsible for setting standards for and regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire satellite and cable. while the states generally have jurisdiction over intrastate communications. The Communications Act also empowers the FCC to control all use of the radio spectrum other than Federal government use. Under the Act, the FCC exercises the authority given to it by the Congress to decide what radio frequencies or what portions of the spectrum will be used for what purposes and by what users. The Act also imposes requirements for licensing of stations for a limited period of time and in the public convenience, interest and necessity.

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 is the first major overhaul of telecommunications law in almost 62 years. The goal of this new law is to let any communications business compete in any market against any other. The new law affects local and long distance telephone service, cable programming and other video services, broadcast services and services provided to schools. The Act also created a new set of rules to govern carriers’ use of subscriber information to protect customer privacy.