UC Law SF Communications and Entertainment Journal


The debate over the first amendment justification for broadcast regulation has become heatedly polarized between the print-model, "look, Ma, no hands" theory of broadcast regulation and the public ownership/ public trustee model. This debate has assumed an even greater urgency this year because of the appointment of Alfred Sikes as the new Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and because of Congress' heightened interest in, and intense scrutiny of, the FCC's treatment of broadcast regulatory issues. In this article, the authors suggest that the FCC's traditional spectrum allocation responsibilities provide an appropriate and constitutionally defensible starting point for developing an alternative, middle-ground for broadcast regulation. The resulting theory would justify only those broadcast regulations that are narrowly tailored to promote the FCC's legitimate and important spectrum allocation objectives, specifically the policies of efficiently managing the spectrum and providing a broadcast service that is local in character and universal in availability.