Last Thursday, I presented a case study on the 1996 Telecommunications Act. The 1996 Telecommunications Act was passed to deregulate the media industry to make it easier for small companies to come into the big media playing field, and increase competition to create newer forms of technology. Even though the government's good intentions were there, essentially, their plan failed. Media monopolies, such as AT&T, decided to buy out smaller companies, which lead to less competition in the media industry and fewer choices for the consumers. I presented background information on what the 1996 Telecommunications Act is, the effects and problems of the law, how it affects consumers, and how the government can change the law to make it relevant to the new media.
Prior to my presentation, I knew the class had heard about the 1996 Telecommunications Act because Dr. Campbell had mentioned it the class period before. The class discussion didn't go exactly the way I had hoped. I knew it was early in the morning, but I would have liked to hear the opinions of my classmates. I feel that our week's discussion question, Law & Policy: Who Controls the Media is something everyone should be concerned about. I touched on the fact that even though the government deregulated the media industry, parts of the media industry, such as the Internet, were still being regulated. Internet regulation does have a purpose; government Internet regulation is supposed to protect consumers from cybercrimes, identity theft, illegal downloading, online gambling, and domestic acts of terrorism. The government also regulates the Internet so children aren't exposed to obscene and indecent materials. However, the government is not allowed to regulate pornography, because adults should be allowed to view the materials they want to.
The main point I wanted to make with my presentation was the 1996 Telecommunications Act was intended to help the consumers by giving them more choices within the media industry, but it ended up hurting the consumer by giving them less choices and leaving them with higher prices. Until researching this Act, I had no idea how the government could affect the way I purchase cable or Internet service. I think it is vital that we, as students, make sure of how the government plays a role in our lives, and the negative or positive effects their policies can have on us.