Essay on Communications policy

Submitted By Njiwa
Words: 1782
Pages: 8

Where does communications policy come from and how is it made? Give examples to back your argument. To understand communications policy, it is important to first give a precise definition of it. While in general, it is considered as a way of achieving economic, political and socio-cultural goals, other elements are also significant to understand this phenomenon, such as determining who the actors of communications policy are, and the instruments that they employ to enforce their policy. To Garnham (1998), media policy is an action of public authorities such as the government, which applies certain measures, juridical or administrative, adapted to the structure of the media (cited in Freedman 2008: p.10). However, policymaking is not only about intervening in the communications field. Non intervention is indeed another tool of media policy, as the actors make a decision to let the media operators free to regulate themselves (Freedman 2008: pp.10-11). Other debates are about whether media policy has to be considered as a political process or not. While Freedman, for instance, thinks that it is “the direct expression of a state’s political priorities” since its actors are politically engaged, for others, it goes together with the public interest and the technological changes (ibid. : pp.1-3). The purpose of this essay is to analyze where communications policy comes from and how it is made. The case of the U.S is going to be used to answer the first question, by describing the history of the treaties that led to what constitutes communications policy. Secondly, the analysis will be on how communications policy is controlled nowadays, both nationally and internationally. First of all, as Papathanassopoulos and Negrine explain it, the concept of communications policy is new (2010: pp.5-7). In fact, the field of communication could only be considered separately as each media was different and was ruled in a particular way; they describe, for instance, how the press is less regulated than the TV and the radio (ibid.). Besides, each country had its own way of regulating its media, and while some chose to give more freedom to their media operators, others preferred to control them severely (ibid.). Hence, technological progress has led to the novel concept of communications policy as a “whole” and actors were designed to manage it (ibid.).
The example of the U.S answers effectively to the question of how communications policy comes from. Dominick, Sherman and Messere explain where broadcasting regulations come from historically: it all started in 1910 with the Wireless Ship Act, elaborated by the Congress, that was requiring massive ships to get wireless equipments; this act evolved into the Radio Act of 1912, instructing radio operators to procure a licence from the Secretary of Commerce (1999: pp.214-220). It also solved the issue of interferences by setting up hours during which each station is allowed to operate (ibid.). As broadcasting appeared in the 1920s, this act became obsolete, mainly because it was no longer possible to avoid interferences only by assigning hours to each station, as they all needed to be able to operate continuously (ibid.). The congress came up thereby with the Radio Act of 1927 that gave rise to the Federal Radio Commission (FRC) which aim was to find a workaround to the issue of interferences and to take into consideration the public interest, therefore regulating standards as well as content (ibid.). The Communications Act of 1934 transformed the FRC into the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) by increasing the number of members from five to seven and including all forms of communication to its management; it gained thus more power, also as the act was revised by the Congress frequently to make new adaptations, such as introducing cable regulations through the Communications Satellite Act of 1959 (ibid.). On the other hand, it was operating many deregulations, by for instance, simplifying