Many lawmakers and regulators are currently proposing the expansion of broadcast industry regulation. For example, fines have been greatly increased for “indecent” programming on broadcast television and radio, and efforts are underway to extend indecency regulations to cover cable and satellite television. Meanwhile, some policymakers are advocating government regulation of “excessively violent” programming on both broadcast and pay TV. In my latest law review article, “Why Regulate Broadcasting: Toward a Consistent First Amendment Standard for the Information Age,” I hope to show why these efforts are seriously misguided, likely unworkable, and almost certainly completely unconstitutional.
This 52-page article appears in the latest volume of the Catholic University Law School’s CommLaw Conspectus. The article can be found online here.
In this essay, I make the case that the radically unfair system of modern broadcast industry regulation must be completely abolished. “If America is to have a consistent First Amendment in the Information Age,” I argue, “efforts to extend the broadcast regulatory regime must be halted and that regime must be relegated to the ash heap of history.” I go on to make the case against all the traditional broadcast industry regulatory rationales and conclude that: “the traditional rationales for asymmetrical regulation of broadcasting — scarcity, pervasiveness, and the public interest — either no longer make sense or are increasingly impractical to enforce in an age of technological convergence and media abundance. Instead of resisting the inexorable movement toward media parity and a consistent First Amendment standard for the Information Age, policymakers should embrace these changes and focus on responding to the problem of objectionable content through education and empowerment-based strategies that enable families to craft their own household media standards.”