Communications Law: Broadcast and Cable Television


Course Code:
LAW 447
Law Honors/Pass/R credit/Fail


Most people watch television on a regular basis (although not necessarily on TV). Television entertains, delivers the news, and provides an important forum for debating political issues. Focusing on communications law and first amendment law, the course will discuss how and why regulation shapes what we see on TV, and how it attempts to ensure that television can fulfill its functions for society. For example, why is cable television so expensive? Why can comedians swear on cable TV, but not on broadcast TV? Should regulators care as much about violence as they do about indecency? Can we trust the market to give the audience what it wants? Will the market provide content that is in the public interest, such as local news or educational programming, or do regulators need to intervene? Should we care if media outlets are increasingly owned by a few small conglomerates? And how does the Internet affect the need for ownership regulation? The course mostly focuses on the U.S., but highlights developments elsewhere where appropriate.nnSpecial instructions: Students may take Communications Law: Internet and Telephony and Communications Law: Broadcast and Cable Television in any order (neither is a prerequisite for the other).nnThere are no prerequisites for this course. No technical background is required.nnElements used in grading: Class participation, attendance, final exam.

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