The First Amendment as a Shield or a Sword: An Integrated Look at Regulation of Multi-Media Ownership.

by Anne W. Branscomb

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The purpose is to: (1) examine the different ways in which the First Amendment has been applied with respect to concentrations of control over the mass media; (2) review the existing and proposed regulations concerning monopoly, duopoly, multiple ownership, multimedia ownership, or cross-ownership of the media; (3) explore the viability of alternative policies which would assure a diversity of information reaching the public regardless of ownership or control of the transmission facilities; and (4) project, from recent judicial decisions, what directions government policy might take to promote a diverse marketplace of ideas. Two conclusions are apparent: (1) the development of new technologies offers an opportunity to rethink basic constitutional protections, and (2) the rationale for regulation to promote diversity of ownership or messages is not the inherent availability or scarcity but the fact that the preservation of a free marketplace of ideas is crucial to the preservation of a free society. 114 pp. Ref.

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