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
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