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Encyclopedia > Telecommunications Act of 1996

The Telecommunications Act of 1996[1] was the first major overhaul of United States telecommunications law in nearly 62 years, amending the Communications Act of 1934, and leading to media consolidation.[2] It was approved by the 104th Congress on January 3, 1996 and signed into law on February 8, 1996 by President Bill Clinton. Telecommunication involves the transmission of signals over a distance for the purpose of communication. ... The Communications Act of 1934 was a United States federal law enacted as Public Law Number 416, Act of June 19, 1934, ch. ... Concentration of media ownership (also known as media consolidation) is a commonly used term among media critics, policy makers, and others to characterize ownership structure of mass media industries. ... // Elections for the 104th United States Congress were held on November 8, 1994. ... January 3 is the 3rd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1996 (MCMXCVI) was a leap year starting on Monday (link will display full 1996 Gregorian calendar). ... February 8 is the 39th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1996 (MCMXCVI) was a leap year starting on Monday (link will display full 1996 Gregorian calendar). ... William Jefferson Bill Clinton (born William Jefferson Blythe III[1] on August 19, 1946) was the 42nd President of the United States, serving from 1993 to 2001. ...


Major Provisions

The 1996 Telecommunications Act is divided into seven Titles:

Title I, entitled “Telecommunications Service,” outlines the general duties of telecommunication carriers, the obligations of all local exchange carriers, and the additional obligations of incumbent local exchange carriers. Local exchange carrier is a regulatory term in telecommunications for so-called local telephone company. ... ILEC or Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier is a local telephone company that was in existence at the time of the breakup of AT&T, for example, the Baby Bells and GTE. They compete with upstart Competitive Local Exchange Carriers. ...

Title II, entitled “Broadcast Services,” outlines the granting and licensing of broadcast spectrum by the government, the use of the revenues generated by such licensing, the terms of broadcast licenses, the process of renewing broadcast licenses, direct broadcast satellite services, automated ship distress and safety systems, and restrictions on over-the-air reception devices. The United States government requires users of radio spectrum to obtain a broadcast license to use the airwaves, except for low-powered transmitters like CBs and Walkie Talkies. ...

Title III, entitled “Cable Services,” outlines the Cable Act reform, cable services provided by telephone companies, the preemption of franchising authority regulation of telecommunication services, video programming accessibility, competitive availability of navigation devices, and video programming accessibility.

Title IV, entitled “Regulatory Reform,” outlines regulatory forbearance, a Biennial review of regulations, regulatory relief, and the elimination of unnecessary Commission regulations and functions.

Title V, entitled “Obscenity and Violence”, outlines regulations regarding obscene programming on cable television, the scrambling of cable channels for nonsubscribers, the scrambling of sexually explicit adult video service programming, the cable operators refusal to carry certain programs, coercion and enticement of minors, and online family empowerment. Title V also gives a clarification of the current laws regarding communication of obscene materials through the use of a computer. Obscenity in Latin obscenus, meaning foul, repulsive, detestable, (possibly derived from ob caenum, literally from filth). The term is most often used in a legal context to describe expressions (words, images, actions) that offend the prevalent sexual morality of the time. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Coaxial cable is often used to transmit cable television into the house. ...

Title VI, entitled “Effect on Other Laws,” outlines the applicability of consent decrees and other laws and the preemption of local taxation with respect to direct-to-home sales. DECREE - The judgment or sentence of a court of equity which corresponds to the judgment of a court of law. ...

Title VII, entitled “Miscellaneous Provisions,” outlines provisions relating to the prevention of unfair billing practices for information or services provided over toll-free telephone calls, privacy of consumer information, pole attachments, facilities siting, radio frequency emission standards, mobile services direct access to long distance carriers, advanced telecommunications incentives, the telecommunications development fund, the National Education Technology Funding Corporation, a report on the use of advance telecommunications services for medical purposes, and outlines the authorization of appropriations.

The Act makes a significant distinction between providers of telecommunications services and information services. The term `telecommunications service' means the offering of telecommunications for a fee directly to the public, or to such classes of users as to be effectively available directly to the public, regardless of the facilities used.' On the other hand, the term `information service' means the offering of a capability for generating, acquiring, storing, transforming, processing, retrieving, utilizing, or making available information via telecommunications, and includes electronic publishing, but does not include any use of any such capability for the management, control, or operation of a telecommunications system or the management of a telecommunications service. The distinction comes into play when a carrier provides information services. A carrier providing information services is not a ‘telecommunications carrier’ under the act. For example, a carrier is not a ‘telecommunications carrier’ when it is selling broadband Internet access. This distinction becomes particularly important because the act enforces specific regulations against ‘telecommunications carriers’ but not against carriers providing information services. With the convergence of telephone, cable, and internet providers, this distinction has created much controversy.

The Act both deregulated and created new regulations. Congress forced local telephone companies to share their lines with competitors at regulated rates if "the failure to provide access to such network elements would impair the ability of the telecommunications carrier seeking access to provide the services that it seeks to offer." (Section 251(3)(2)(B)) This led to the creation of a new group of telephone companies, "Competitive Local Exchange Carriers" (CLECs) that compete with ("ILECs" or Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers). This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...

Most media ownership regulations were eliminated.

Title V of the 1996 Act is the Communications Decency Act, aimed at regulating Internet indecency and obscenity, but was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court for violating the First Amendment. Portions of Title V remain, including the Good Samaritan Act, which protects ISPs from liability for third party content on their services, and legal definitions of the Internet. The Communications Decency Act (CDA) was arguably the first attempt by the United States Congress to regulate pornographic material on the Internet, in response to public concerns in 1996. ... The Supreme Court Building, Washington, D.C. The Supreme Court Building, Washington, D.C., (large image) The Supreme Court of the United States, located in Washington, D.C., is the highest court (see supreme court) in the United States; that is, it has ultimate judicial authority within the United States... The Bill of Rights in the National Archives The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is a part of the United States Bill of Rights. ...

The U.S. Congress is currently considering legislation that would overhaul the Telecommunications Act of 1996.[3][4][5]

The Act codified the concept of Universal Service and led to creation of the Universal Service Fund and E-rate programs. The Universal Service Fund is a United States government program which provides subsidies for telephone service in areas that might otherwise have difficulties obtaining economical telephone service, particularly low-income areas and rural areas. ... E-rate is a United States federal program intended to provide funding for data/telephone communications re-imbursement for K-12 educational entities. ...

Claims made in opposition to the act

When the smaller CLECs faced financial problems, the trend toward competition slowed, turning into a decade of reconsolidation. [Marcus] The two largest CLECs, Teleport Communications Group (TCG) and Metropolitan Fiber Systems (MFS) were acquired by AT&T and MCI/WorldCom. Metropolitan Fiber Systems Inc, later known as MFS Communications Company, was a last mile provider of business grade telecomunication products such as long distance, and internet access through its own fiber rings in major urban areas such as Washington DC, New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles; bypassing ILEC connections and... AT&T Inc. ... MCI may refer to the following: MCI Group Holdings, an association, communications, and event management company. ...

The Act was claimed to foster competition, but instead it led to historic industry consolidation, reducing the number of major media companies from around 80 in 1986, to 6 in 2005.[6]

TYPICAL WIKIPEDIA...there is so much material available on the negative consequences of this ACT upon local and small radio but per usual the official orthodoxy of whitewashing the Clinton record pervails.

External links

  • http://www.oswego.edu/~messere/telcom1.html - Analysis of The Telecommunications Act of 1996. This article by Fritz Messere (Associate Professor of Communication Studies at SUNY Oswego) describes the impact of the Act on radio and television broadcasting, Internet and on-line computer services, and provides sources and suggested further reading.
  • http://www.mega.nu:8080/ampp/PEGB/chap04.htm#metatop - “Chapter 4: Liberalisation: Case Studies in Telecommunications” from the London School of Economics’ Course Guide to Political Environment for Global Business, by Richard Jerram, Michael Hodges, Louis Turner, and Richard Kurz. This article describes the main effects of US telecommunications reform and discusses the consequences of The 1996 Telecommunications Act.


  • A Legislative History of the Communications Act of 1936, by Paglin, Max D. - Oxford University Press, New York. 1989.
  • Brinkley Act - Section 325(b) of the Communications Act of 1934 that was written into law in an attempt to halt live broadcasting from radio studios in the United States linked via telephone land lines to superpower border-blaster transmitters located along the Mexican side of the Rio Grande (Rio Bravo), international border. This provision was carried through into the Telecommunications Act of 1996 by incorporation of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended to Section 325(c).
  • Hendricks, John Allen. "The Telecommunications Act of 1996: Its Impact on the Electronic Media of the 21st Century." Communications and the Law, Volume 21, Number 2, June 1999.
  • Library of Congress. S.652.RS - 27/30 Mar 1995 - 104-23 Initial text of proposed legislation.
  • Library of Congress. Senate Report 104-23 7 June 1995 Document, description of the intentions for each section of S.652.
  • Library of Congress. S7881-7912 - 7 Jun 1995 - S.652 Measure laid before the Senate. Speeches made by Senators.
  • Library of Congress. S.652 - All Congressional Actions w/Amendments All speeches, amendments on the Senate Floor, 23 March 1995 through 8 February 1996.
  • U.S. Senate. 104th Congr. 2nd Sess. Vote 8 - 1 Feb 1996 Senate passes the final revision of S.652, sent to President Clinton who signed it into law on 8 Feb 1996.
  • U.S.G.P.O. Public Law No: 104-104 Telecommunications Act of 1996.
  • Securities and Exchange Commission. [1] Teleport Communications GroupTCG, Quarterly Report (10-Q), March 5, 1998, pages 3, 6-7.
  • Securities and Exchange Commission. [2] MCI Inc., Quarterly Report (10-Q), November 14, 1997, page 20. MFS
  • Marcus, J Scott; "Is the U.S. Dancing to a Different Drummer?"; Communications & Strategies; volume 60; WIK-Consult GmbH, Bad Honnef, Germany; 4th Quarter 2005 [3]; page 39.
  • Film, Media Corporate Histories & Convergence, 1920s-1999 ISBN 3631518528

The Brinkley Act is the popular name given to Section 325(b) of The Communications Act of 1934; United States Public Law 416, 73d Congress, June 19, 1934. ... A border blaster, in contrast to an international broadcast station, is a licensed commercial radio station that transmits at very high power to the United States of America from various Mexican cities near the border. ... Río Bravo redirects here. ... This article is about the river that empties into the Gulf of Mexico. ... Wikipedia does not yet have an article with this exact name. ... Metropolitan Fiber Systems was a telecommunications service provider aquired by Worldcom in 1997. ... As a first name, Marcus or Markus is of Roman origin. ...


  1. ^ P.L. No. 104-104, 110 Stat. 56 (1996).
  2. ^ Adbusters : The Magazine - #72 The Fake Issue / Fighting For Air: An interview with Eric Klinenberg. Retrieved on 2007-06-29.
  3. ^ Library of Congress. Senate Report 109-355 29 Sep. 2006 Document, description of the Communications Act of 2006
  4. ^ Library of Congress. H.R.5252-RS - 29 Sep. 2006 - 109-355 Communications Act of 2006 (text of the proposed legislation)
  5. ^ COPE Act of 2006.
  6. ^ Bagdikian, B. "Media Monopoly."

Year 2007 (MMVII) is the current year, a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and the AD/CE era. ... is the 180th day of the year (181st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... The Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement (COPE) Act of 2006 is a bill in the US House of Representatives. ...

See also



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