Deregulation
Deregulation

Other areas of the world are seeing a decrease in regulation.  In the United States, Congress significantly altered the regulation of media with the Telecommunications Reform Act of 1996 (FCC, 2006).   Previously, various telecommunications agents had defined realms—telephony, radio, et. al.  Local and long distance companies were not allowed to compete against each other while cable companies had monopoly (an economic situation in which one firm supplies the entire market) status (Wasserstein, 2001).     Conversely, the 1996 statute allowed local and long distance providers to compete with each other.   It also allowed cable companies to offer local service while allowing television and radio broadcasters to own more stations (Wasserstein, 2001). 

Further deregulation was attempted in June 2003 when the FCC approved new rules (Finberg, 2003)  that would have removed or loosened limits on ownership of media within a given market.  However, that decision was overturned and stands (Ahrens, 2005)(Labaton, 2005).

The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC) is working with former regulators, scholars, and economists to develop a plan, “Telecom Act for the Digital Age.” MMTC believes that the Telecommunications Act of 1996 is out-of-date. In order to accomplish this MMTC has developed a “Telecom Act Taskforce” that would consider all avenues for passage of the act.  MMTC highlights six goals for a new act:

1. Make the U.S. a leader in broadband infrastructure, adoption, informed use and consumer protection
2. Empower the FCC to protect consumer when the market has failed to do so and make the FCC more flexible when addressing disruptive technologies
3. Harmonize regulation across industries to ensure technology neutrality
4. Enable the FCC to rapidly resolve complex issues
5. Enable the U.S. to achieve universal broadband adoption, access, and affordability
6. Ensure all Americans participate fully as owners and managers of media, telecom, and high tech industries (Politics, 2012).

 

Next: Ownership