The Business of Broadband and the Public Interest: Media Policy for the Network Society

Stephen Schultze

Stephen Schultze

Media policy in the United States has, since its inception, been governed by the principle that infrastructure providers should serve “the public interest.” The Federal Communications Commission has traditionally been charged with enforcing various obligations on businesses under this principle. Policymakers have developed different regimes for different media, but these distinctions no longer make sense in a technologically converged environment. This study draws upon the historical origins of the principle in order to inform contemporary debates in communication policy. It recovers some of the normative meaning behind “the public interest” phrase, and identifies the several dimensions in which it remains relevant today. The thesis argues that universal access, platform innovation, and general-purpose technologies should inform network-aware media policy.

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