Thursday, February 14, 2013


Press v. Broadcasting
The freedom of speech or of the press is a hotly debated issue and how the First Amendment is interpreted to establish the true meaning of “Freedom,” as if applies to the access theory. These following two cases have been passionately debated and now it being the  21st century, with all of the internet and smartphone accessibility to express oneself and be connected, it makes an individual deliberate where the line will be drawn and what the consequences will be for this freedom.
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected the access theory in, Miami Herald v. Tornilla[1]and reversed the decision made by the Florida State Supreme Court. The court stated the statute in which the prior decision was made inferred with the guarantees of a free press under the First Amendment.  The First Amendment does not give the government the right to force a newspaper to publish views or ideas from a citizen and thus would interfere with the editorial judgment about the choice of material in which to publish.
In Red Lion Broadcasting v. FCC[2], the supreme court ruled the public has the right to receive what they consider suitable access to social, political, esthetic, moral, and other ideas, therefore embracing the access theory. The FCC limits the broadcast system by only allowing a number of radio and television stations to broadcast; therefor the government has the obligation of protecting the public interest.
The courts made the distinction between the print and broadcast media in the above cases by rationalizing there would be unlimited voices in the press. Meaning that there is no regulation on how many newspapers, magazines, etc. there could be in business. On the other hand, the government has promulgated statutes and ordinances through the FCC to limit the number of radio and television stations that are able to broadcast on the airways, along with their content and language usage.
Much has changed since 1969, with the invention of the internet and affordable computers/smart phones. A person can easily download a podcast, tweet on Twitter or rip music onto their electronic device. The once written form of expression such as newspapers, books, etc. can be accessed easily by just about anyone from their smart device, making the printed word go viral. As for broadcasting, yes the FCC still limits the number of stations on the airways and how much power you can use to broadcast. But with the invention of the internet a person can listen to the news, a podcast, and an opinion of a private individual  as easy as or easier than turning on the radio or the television. The access theory does not seem to fit comfortably into the 21st century and our social network.

[1] 418 U.S. 241 (1974)
[2] 395 U.S. 367 (1969)