Democracy in Crisis: The Telecommunications Act of 1996

Syed Uddin-Ahmed
unpublished
This article focuses on the Telecommunications Act of 1996 that was passed under the Clinton administration. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was the first dramatic change in 62 years to the 1934 Communications Act. This legislation was approved by the 104 th Congress and signed by the Clinton administration. The purpose of the Act was to improve the quality of life of Americans by introducing new, modern age flexibility to the old 1934 Communications Act. However, during this period private
more » ... his period private lobbies became incredibly invasive in their penetration into policies that threaten the vitality of the American Democratic System. The Article explores the dangers in the civic, political, and day to day lives of American citizens. Introduction: This article focuses on the Telecommunications Act of 1996 that was passed under the Clinton administration. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was the first dramatic change in 62 years to the 1934 Communications Act. This legislation was approved by the 104 th Congress and signed by the Clinton administration. The purpose of the Act was to improve the quality of life of Americans by introducing a new, modern age flexibility to the old 1934 Communications Act. The industry lobby was eager to have a fairer playing ground upon which it could further certain private interests. The telecommunications bill was a highly debated issue during Clinton"s presidency, especially near the end of 1995. There was a GOP-led ideological war that brewed in early spring with the goal of lessening the control of the FCC, or possibly even abolishing it. The main focus was to do away with the old, archaic rules of the 1934 Act which at the time of its passing seemed to fit into the future of the country as it went forward. There was bipartisan support for the Act; it was passed because it touted the benefits of jobs, improving education, making communications easier, and helping to bridge certain gaps in the country"s socioeconomic status. It was under these conditions that the bill became highly politicized by the administration. I concluded from these conditions that the main concern was the health of the American democracy. A study of this bill forces the question: can a healthy, vibrant democracy exist in the absence of any truly free public spaces, with no place designated for free public exchanges, or for the dissemination of credible information about the goings on in the world? Without access to these types of spaces, are Americans truly free? Such a situation makes us question the vitality and openness of our democracy, and is why it is important to examine the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and its impact on public space. This paper is divided into sections, including a substantive summary of the policy background, the goals, problems, and solutions (including both general and specific solutions), and a conclusion. The first section gives a detailed summary of the policy background and the main players, their aims, what happened, and the basic details of the policy initiative. The second section relates the goals of the paper, and deals with high concepts such as "Liberty," since there are two groups of particular interest in such an inquiry: the industry lobby, and those who are concerned about a monopoly control over of our airwaves (which are supposed to be a commonly-held public good). The third section discusses problems the paper elaborates upon, such as the different competing "interests" that served as the dominant factor in this policy initiative; here we see that politics is affected by different interests, especially in policy making. The fourth section of the paper lists solutions and puts forward answers regarding where "inducements" played a major role in this initiative, as well as how certain "rules"
fatcat:znhoplxbxbfzxcumfkkagolmri