A SHORT SUMMARY OF THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS REFORM ACT OF 1996
For the past three years, President Clinton and Vice President Gore have worked for telecommunications reform that stimulates private investment, promotes competition, protects diversity of viewpoints and voices among the media, provides families with technologies to help them control the kinds of television programs that come into their homes, and strengthens and improves universal service so that all Americans can have access to the benefits of the information superhighway. With passage of the Telecommunications Reform Act of 1996, this important national goal has been met. Signed into law by President Clinton today this legislation will lead all Americans into a more prosperous future by preparing our economy for the 21st Century and opening wide the door to the Information Age.
The President and Vice President want to ensure that all Americans have access to the benefits of the information superhighway. The Act ensures that schools, libraries, hospitals and clinics have access to advanced telecommunications services, and calls for them to be connected to the information superhighway by the year 2000. It will help connect every school child in every classroom in America to the information superhighway -- opening up worlds of knowledge and opportunities in rural and low-income areas.
Because President Clinton and Vice President Gore believe strongly that families should be able to exercise control over how the media influences their children, the Act includes a provision calling for a computer chip, called the V-Chip, to be installed in every new television set. This provision is critical to give parents control of the television programming that comes into their homes by allowing them to block electronically violent or other objectional material.
Because President Clinton and Vice President Gore believe that diversity of voices and viewpoints is critical to our democracy, the Act will prevent undue concentration of television and radio ownership. The Act limits the number of stations one entity can own to stations that reach up to 35 percent of all national TV viewers, and keeps existing rules that forbid one
company from owning two TV stations in a local market, or a newspaper and TV station in the same market, or a newspaper and cable in the same market. The Act also maintains the ownership ban of a cable company and a broadcast company in the same market.
The President and Vice President believe that when the walls of regulations are brought down, prices come down for American consumers. This Act breaks down the Berlin Walls of regulation that previously kept local Bell Telephone companies and long-distance telephone
companies from competing with one another, while keeping safeguards in place to ensure competition and serve the public interest.