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Broadcasting - The History Of Radio, The History Of Television, The Future Of Radio And Television, Cable Television

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationFree Legal Encyclopedia: Bill of Particulars to William Benson Bryant

As a verb, to transmit programs or signals intended to be received by the public through radio, television, or similar means. As a noun, the radio, television, or other program received by the public through the transmission.

In 1898 Guglielmo Marconi, a 24-year-old Italian, began the world's first commercial radio service. For citizens of the United States, radio—and later television—not only introduced an abundance of entertainment and information, it also raised many legal questions surrounding its implementation and regulation. In radio's earliest days, stations all broadcast at the same frequency; this situation posed problems because although some stations agreed to share their time, others attempted to broadcast stronger signals over those of their competitors. Problems continued even when stations began to broadcast on separate frequencies. Because broadcasting requires use of the airwaves for the transmission of its signals, and because the airwaves can carry only a limited number of signals, it soon became apparent that some form of regulation was necessary. In 1927, the Radio Act (47 U.S.C.A § 81 et seq.) became law and the Federal Radio Commission (FRC) was created to police the broadcasting industry. Two important tenets of broadcasting were introduced by the law. The first was that stations must broadcast "in the public interest, convenience, or necessity." The second was that the people, not the radio stations, owned the airwaves. In its efforts to see that the airwaves were used in the appropriate manner, government regulation faced obstacles as it attempted to ensure suitable government-funded programming, appropriate programming for children, and equal access to broadcasting for minorities. Additional challenges were created by changing technology as CABLE TELEVISION went underground and satellite television took to outer space.

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