All Lessons

All Lessons

Learning Objective

Have a good answer to the question, What is the role of Government in regulating markets?

Given the interconnectedness and substitutability of the different telecommunications technologies, understand the public interest implications of various uses and the role of the government in regulating markets and competition in the area

This is an overarching objective that shapes the consideration of all of the following TCOs. As each of the different telecommunication technologies are examined in the course, this perspective should form the debate. Ultimately, by the end of the course, students should have a command of the several sides of the issues regarding the nature of the public interest in telecommunications and the arguments underlying the various policy approaches to its regulation.

Specific foundational materials on this TCO are presented in Sessions One and Nine in the Sample Syllabus—in the regulatory overview and the arguments pro and con the FCC. The topic outline for TCOs A and B are presented together under TCO B.

TCO B           

Given governmental ownership and licensing of the broadcast spectrum, identify and describe the goals and methods of the FCC in allocating and distributing this resource

Regulatory Overview


            1934 Act

Broadcast and Spectrum Regulation

            History of Broadcast

                        Radio Act of 1927

                        The FRC

                        Shuler and Brinkley Cases

            Electromagnetic Spectrum

                        Encoding, Transmitting, Receiving

                        Allocation of Spectrum

Arguments pro and con re: Broadcast Regulation

            Market Model

            Special Interests

            Nature of Broadcast as a Public Good

Methods of Regulation


            Goals of the FCC in Regulating Broadcast

Methods of FCC Regulation of Broadcast

License Hearings

            Initial Assignments

            Comparative Hearings


            License Renewals

            License Transfers


            Reform of the License Process

            Comparison of Lotteries, Auctions, and Comparative Hearings

Competition in Broadcasting

            Television Networks

                        Relationship Among the Major Networks

                        Relationship Between Networks and Independent Program Suppliers

            Ownership Restrictions 

TCO C           

Given First Amendment principles regarding the regulation of content, understand the public trustee obligations imposed on broadcasters in the form of the fairness doctrine and limitations on indecency, violence, and children’s programming

Concepts of “Public Trustee”

The Fairness Doctrine


            Nature of its requirements

Indecent Broadcasts

Televised Violence

            Media Filters


Ratings Systems

Children’s Television

            Programming and Advertising

            FCC Rules and Policies

TCO D           

Given the natural monopoly tendency of telecommunications technologies like cable and telephony, understand the policies underlying governmental regulation and the methods employed to constrain prices

Cable Basics

The Nature of a Natural Monopoly

Early History of Cable Regulation

            Jurisdictional Question of Who Should Regulate

Rate Regulation

            Cable Act of 1992—FCC Summary

            Post-1992 Regulation

Local Franchise Agreements

            Relationship between Cable Rates and Franchise Fees

            PEG and leased access channels

TCO E           

Given the close relationship of broadcast spectrum with cable and direct satellite, understand the principles governing copyright and licensing, syndication, and must-carry and retransmission consent

The Broadcast/Cable Relationship

            The Copyright Act of 1976

            Focus on Program Content

Copyright and Compulsory Licensing

Syndicated Exclusivity and Network Nonduplication

Focus on Broadcast Signal

Must-Carry and Retransmission Consent under the Cable Act

Turner I and II

Structural Limitations Under the Cable Act of 1992

            Vertical Integration

            Horizontal Concentration

Direct Broadcast Satellite

            Early History of Regulation

            Modern Regulation

            Primetime Case

            Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act of 1999


Given the historical origins and development of the telephone system, understand the conditions that gave rise to the Bell monopoly, the issues that led to ultimate divestiture, and the terms of the Bell breakup

Telephone Regulation

Early Telephone Regulation

            Common Carriage and Antitrust Issues

            Jurisdiction to Regulate

Telephony as Monopoly

Precursors to Divestiture

Competition in Customer Premises Equipment

Competition in Long Distance

Communications/Computer Convergence

Rate-of-Return Regulation

Divestiture of Bell

            Terms and Conditions of the MFJ (modified final judgment)

TCO G          

Given the need for broad Federal regulation of telecommunications, understand the basic provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and its effect on local competition, line-of-business restrictions, universal service, and access charge reform

Issues Post Divestiture

            Introduction to issues of 

Rate regulation reform

Implementation of line of business restrictions

Redefining universal service

Telecommunications Act of 1996

            History and Historic Nature of the Act

            Local Competition

                        Approach to enhance entry and competition

            BOC Line-of-Business Restriction

                        Terms for Removing Restrictions

            Universal Service and Access Charge Reform

                        Redefinition of Universal Service

In Response to Local Competition Changes

In Response to the Internet and Other Advanced Technologies

                        Relationship Between Universal Service and Access Charge Reform

TCO H          

Given that regulation of the Internet is in a nascent stage of development, understand the nature of the Internet and the policy arguments relating to how it should be regulated and by whom

History and Architecture of the Internet

Regulation of the Internet

            Basic Principles and Policy Arguments For and Against Regulation

Content Regulation of the Internet

            Indecent Communications by Telephone

            Indecent Communications over the Internet (Reno v. ACLU)

Why the FCC?

                        [Wrap back to earliest questions raised in the course]

Compare and Contrast the Various Perspectives

FCC Report