Telecommunications Act of 1996

On February 8, 1996, U.S. President Bill Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act into law. The bill was designed to update, but not replace, major elements of the 1934 Communications Act. The 1934 act established the Federal Communications Commission (FCC; formerly the Federal Radio Commission), giving it the power to regulate telecommunications service and in some cases, content, in the name of the public’s interest, convenience, and necessity.

To best understand the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and the subsequent challenges to it in the decades since its enactment, this entry begins with an overview of what, specifically, the Act did. How did it shape or change radio, television, cable, telephony, and Internet service? After reviewing each major element of the law, the entry examines the legal challenges ...

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