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The Federal Communications Commission, the FCC, which was developed in 1934 with the passing of the Communications Act, regulates all communication by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable.

In 1996 the Telecommunications Act was developed in an effort to promote more competition in the media industry.

Modern media started off with only two categories: Telecommunications and Print Media.

Today Media is categorized into many different divisions each controlled by a different bureau. For example, AM and FM radio is governed by the Mass Media Bureau while Domestic Commercial and Private wireless communications are governed by the Wire Less Telecommunications Bureau.

Media law often overlaps with civil rights because one of those rights is the freedom of speech. This freedom includes both spoken and written word (i.e. newspapers, books and magazines, as well as music, theater, and other forms or art). Censorship occurs when the media filters or alters a broadcast or publication before it reaches the general public and, in some cases of censorship, it never does. Laws on censorship vary depending on the forum and location, or distribution area, of the publication or broadcast. While some forms of censorship exist, like in censoring pornography material from minors, our government cannot legally begin to censor all items in the media because it can conflict with our civil rights.

The Internet

The Internet, which could be considered a form of mass media, is fairly young and it's already surrounded by controversy. There are some people who want the Internet regulated and some who want it to remain an open forum and free for publishing, writing and displaying anything. Currently, anyone can post on the Internet and anyone can read the content on it. All that is required to access the Internet is the proper equipment. Because the Internet is an open forum, it is important to pay attention to the source of the webpage. The information displayed does not necessarily have to be true. This is not to say that there is not valid and truthful information on the Internet, but it is important to make sure you always consider your source.

The Children's Internet Protection Act

In an effort to protect children form pornography and chat rooms on the internet, the government has instituted a policy of installing Internet blocking technologies in schools and libraries; places where the Internet is readily available to them.

The debate over the Children's Internet Protection act lies largely with its effectiveness. Opponents claim that the act is not sufficient and has too many flaws. They say it does not effectively filter the harmful material, letting some content pass by, while blocking other content that may be useful. For example, say that a high school student is doing a research paper for a class on breast cancer and wants to do most of his or her work at the school. If the school had the Internet blocking technology running, that student would not find much information because the software would block any site that has the word breast in it.

Supporters of the program claim that it is possible to disable the blockers and in such a case the blocker could be turned off to allow the student unrestricted research.

By Jeanne Rongitsch           

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