The passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 inaugurated a new and highly volatile era in telecommunications. The first major overhaul of United States communications law since 1934 -- when no one had a television, a cordless phone, or a computer -- the Act was spurred into being by broad shifts in technology use. Equally important, the new law reflects important changes in our notions of the purpose of communications regulation itself. Focusing on the evolution of the concept of the public interest, this book examines how and why the Act was developed, analyzes it thematically, and charts its intended and unintended effects in business and policy. An abridged version of the Act is included, as are the Supreme Court decision that struck down one of its clauses, the Communications Decency Act, and a variety of pertinent speeches, policy arguments, and resource listings.
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Patricia A. Aufderheide, PhD, School of Communication, American University, Washington, DC
"This book offers a substantial and thorough guide to the communications legislation that defines our new media world. In clear and concise language, Aufderheide brings us up to speed on what the law is today and what important and vital problems remain. Her book ought to be required reading for everyone who is struggling to make sense of the current situation, from 'inside the beltway' policy makers to average citizens. Simply one of the most important books ever published on communications law and policy." --Douglas Gomery, Professor, College of Journalism, University of Maryland, Columnist, AMERICAN JOURNALISM REVIEW, "The Economics of Television" "This book achieves the impossible--making legislative history readable. Drawing upon her 'parallel life' as one of the nation's leading pop culture critics, Aufderheide turns the story of the 1996 Telecommunications Act into a book that is actually fun to read." --Andrew Jay Schwartzman, President, Media Access Project, Washington, DC "Patricia Aufderheide has produced a terrifically useful volume on the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The volume reprints the Act itself as well as several pointed commentaries on telecommunications policy and the public interest. Best of all is Aufderheide's overview of the Act and the politics of its passage. She situates the Act in its various contexts--technological, regulatory, political, economic, legal--and incisively examines the politics of the Act's passage. This is an outstanding volume for teaching purposes." --Robert B. Horwitz, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Communication, University of California, San Diego "Patricia Aufderheide puts a human face on a daunting, technologically complex piece of legislation. Deep within the mystifying jargon of the telecommunications industry, the author finds those interstices where the public interest still exists and needs nurturing. A compelling story is told which places recent legislative developments in their historical and regulatory context. For libraries that serve law students and graduate students the book will be a useful navigational and reference device." --Monroe Price, Law Professor, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, New York, Co-Director of the Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy, Oxford University "Aufderheide has written an easily-read legislative history in her five chapters, and has appended materials that otherwise would be difficult (if not impossible) for the average citizen to find. This is a significant book, and one that--we may hope--might lead to less ideological and simplistic solutions when the Congress again looks at telecommunications."--"Media Ethics" "This book is an important contribution to the study of communications policy. Aufderheide targets this book to scholars and students in communication, government and sociology. She also directs this work to active citizens and activists in nonprofit organizations. In both cases the author succeeds. I recommend [this book] for upper level undergraduate courses or graduate courses in communications law and policy that have a focus beyond the basic law and regulation course. It may also be a useful supplement in courses studying media economics." --"Journalism and Mass Communication Educator" .,."a valuable contribution....The book is well written and provides an excellent overview of the public policy debate surrounding the Telecommunications Act of 1996." --"Journal of Communication" .,."provides a thorough and insightful history of the policy processes and debates from which the Telecommunications Reform Act of 1996 (TCRA) emerged. Aufderheide cuts through the emotionally charged discussions that surrounded the legislation to offer a balanced and dispassionate analysis of the issues that shaped the law....Among the book's many strengths is its brevity and the valuable resource material that it includes....The volume also provides a solid introduction to the concept of the public interest and its role incommunications policy....It would be appropriate and valuable for advanced undergraduate and lower-level graduate students, as well as for anyone seeking a solid understanding of the philosophical underpinnings of this landmark legislation and the debates that shaped its development." --"Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly" "Recommended for research and professional collections." --"Choice"
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