Pennsylvania State University                                           College of Communications Department of Telecommunications                                                      Fall 2005 COMM 381 – Telecommunications Regulation                     Willard 260 TR 1:00-2:15




Instructor: Amit M. Schejter, Ph.D.                              Office Hours: TR 11:15- 12:45  Office: 106 Carnegie                                                                               or by appointment Telephone: 865-3717                                                 Email: through ANGEL only   


Course Objective: A professional or academic involved in the telecommunications industry cannot overlook one of its central characteristics -- that it is a regulated industry. This course introduces you to the basic elements of telecommunications regulation, allowing you to become a better-informed professional with the ability to analyze phenomena in this industry and contextualize them in a broad framework. The course will establish for its students the context for regulation, its justifications, history, structure, principles, standards, technological challenges, economic pressures, and legal solutions. Students will study regulatory concepts in their broadest sense and at the same time will be exposed to specific contemporary and historical issues faced by the industry and debated among practitioners and regulators alike. Further context will be provided by a review of international developments in the field. 


Course structure, outline, schedule and reading list: The course readings will be compiled in a reading packet available at the Penn State Book Store located on the first floor of the HUB and assigned according to the following schedule. Readings that are accessible on the Internet will not be found in the packet. Telecommunication regulation is a “living” entity that is in constant change and development. You are expected to come to class after you have read the assigned reading for the topic to be discussed that day.   Note: The schedule is subject to changes, and will be updated if needed during the course of the semester. Readings may be added, removed or declared “elective.” Such information will be announced in class and emailed to students through ANGEL.   


The telecommunications industry in general, and the regulatory activity within it in particular, are dynamic. While the course deals with concepts, it is important students are able to see their “real life” connection. Understanding regulatory issues requires being informed regarding everyday occurrences in the field. This is also a very good practice to adopt if you intend to be a successful professional in the field. In addition to the course readings, students are required to subscribe and follow daily the following sources:

1.  The “Free Press” Newsletter:  

2.  The “Benton Foundation” communications related headlines:   and 

3.  The Business section of the New York Times. Take advantage of the fact that you can receive it for free on campus!

Six quizzes will be held during the semester on the stories that appeared in these sources.  

The following sources are referred to in the reading list in short:

Bagdikian, B. (2004). The new media monopoly. Boston: Beacon Press ( “Bagdikian”) 

Baldwin, R. and Cave, M. (1999). Understanding regulation. New York: Oxford University Press (“Baldwin & Cave”) 

Benjamin, S., Lichtman, G. and Shelanski, H. (2001) Telecommunications law and policy. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press (“Benjamin et al.”)

Black, S. (2001) Telecommunications law in the Internet age. San Francisco: Morgan Kaufmann (“Black”)

Creech, K. (2003). Electronic media law and regulation. Boston: Focal Press  (“Creech”).

Doyle, G. (2002). Media ownership. London: Sage Publications (“Doyle”)

Longstaff, P. (2002). The communications toolkit: How to build and regulate any  communications business. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press (“Longstaff”)

Middleton, K., & Lee, W. (2006) The law of public communication. Boston: Allyn & Bacon (“Middleton et al.”)

Napoli, P. (2001) Foundations of communication policy. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press (“Napoli”)

Shenefield, J. & Stelzer, I. (2001) The antitrust laws: a primer. Washington, DC: The AEI Press (“Shenefield & Stelzer”) _____________________________________________________________________   Chapter 1: Concepts

Week 1: (8/30)  and (9/1)

1. Introduction 

2. Chaos or Order? – The U.S. legal system

Reading: Middleton et al. (pp. 1-20).


Week 2: (9/6) and (9/8) 

3. Distributing or Regulating? – The role of the State

Reading: Tatalovich, R. & Daynes, B. (1998) Social regulations and moral conflict. In: R. Tatalovich & B. Daynes (Eds.) Moral controversies in American politics: Cases in social regulatory policy. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe (pp. xxix-xxxiv)

4. One strong team or many equal chances? – Why regulate?

Reading: Baldwin & Cave, Chapter 2


Week 3: (9/13) and (9/15)

5. Competition law or Telecommunication Law I? – Antitrust regulation basics

Reading: Shenefield & Stelzer (pp. 30-84)

6. Competition law or Telecommunication Law II? – Network regulation basics

Reading: Napoli, pp. 11-21  


Week 4: (9/20) and (9/22)

7. The State or an Independent Regulator? – Types of regulators 

Reading: Reagan, M. (1987). Regulation. Boston: Little, Brown (pp. 45-71)

Reading: Brock, G. (1998) Telecommunication policy for the information age: From monopoly to competition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press (pp. 49-60)



8. To speak or to be silenced? – The First Amendment

Reading:  Napoli, pp. 29-44.


Week 5: (9/27) and (9/29)

9. The State or the Public? – The public interest standard in telecom regulation

Reading: Krasnow, E. & Goodman, J. (1997) The "Public Interest" Standard: The  Search for the Holy Grail. Federal Communications Law Journal 50(3), 606-630 or:

Reading: Benjamin et al. (pp. 139-147)  


10. Test #1 - concepts


Week 6: (10/4 – no class) and (10/6)

Chapter 2: Speech Regulation

11. Fairness or impartiality? – Standards of regulating political speech 

Reading: Creech, pp. 72-80.


Week 7: (10/11) and (10/13 – no class)  

12. Reactive or proactive? – Indecent, violent and educational speech

Reading: Middleton et al. pp. 403-425


Week 8: (10/18) and (10/20) 

13. Public or private? – The idea of public broadcasting

Reading: A. Schejter (2003). Public broadcasting, the information society and the  Internet: a paradigm shift? In M. McCauley, E. Peterson, L. Artz & D. Halleck (Eds.) Public Broadcasting and the Public Interest. (pp. 158-174) Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe

14. Speech or transaction? – Regulation of commercial speech

Reading: Creech, chapter 7. pp. 192-209


Week 9: (10/25) and (10/27) 

15. Yours or mine? – Regulation of privacy and regulation under the “Patriot” Act

Reading: Black (pp. 260-268; 294-297)

Reading: ACLU v. Ashcroft (only pages 1-22)

16. Enough or too many? –Media concentration 

Reading: Bagdikian, chapter 2


Week 10: (11/1) and (11/3)

17. Test #2 – Speech regulation


Chapter 3: Technology Regulation

18. Telecommunications or Information? The boundaries of telecom regulation 

Reading: Black (pp. 29-48)

Reading: Longstaff, chapter 5  



Week 11: (11/8) and (11/10)

19. Monopoly or competition? –The telecommunications provisions of 1996 I

Reading: Mueller, M. (1997) “Universal Service” and the new Telecommunications Act: Mythology Made Law. Can be accessed at:

Reading: Garnham, N. (2001) Universal Service. In: Melody, W. (Ed.) (2001) Telecom Reform: Principles, Policies and Regulatory Practices. Can be accessed at:

Reading: Melody, H. (2001) Interconnection: Cornerstone of Competition. In:  Melody, W. (Ed.) (2001) Telecom Reform: Principles, Policies and Regulatory Practices. Can be accessed at:

20. Bundled or unbundled - The telecommunications provisions of 1996 II

Reading: Bittlingmayer, G. & Hazlett, T. (2002) "Open access:" the ideal and the real. Telecommunications Policy, 26(5-6), 295-310 (can be accessed through the Elsevier Science Direct link in the A-Z Electronic Resource list of the library)


Week 12: (11/15) and (11/17)

21. Sell, Lend or Lease? - Spectrum management issues

Reading: Benjamin et al. (pp. 24-34)

22. Circuit switched or Packet Switched? – Regulation of the Internet

Reading: Cannon, R. (2002) Will the “real” Internet please stand up: A quest to define the Internet. Presented at the Telecommunications Policy Research Conference. Alexandria, Va. (September 29, 2002). Can be accessed at:


Week 13: (11/29) and (12/1)

23. Must or must not carry? – Regulation of cable television

Reading: Jackson, M. (2003) Regulating Cable Communications. In: Hopkins, W. (Ed.) Communication and the Law. Vision Press

24. Local or National? - Regulation of Direct Broadcast Satellite

Reading: Benjamin et al. pp. 541-566


Week 14: (12/6) and (12/8)

25. Test #3

26. “Reg-Fest 2005”: The Bi-Annual Telecom Regulation Festival – Poster session of regulatory issues. 


Grading: There will be 3 exams, 6 current affair quizzes, and a presentation in a “poster session.” They will be graded as following:

Test #1:                       20% (for a score of 100*)

Test #2:                       20%

Test #3:                       20%

Quizzes 1-6:                30%

“Poster”:                      10% (+ an extra 5% for “creativity”)

Total:                           100% (with the “creativity 5%” allowing you to compensate for

 less than satisfactory performance in other assignments)


*In each exam you will be able to score up to 120 points. The extra 20 points can be used to compensate for a less than a 100% performance in a quiz, but it cannot compensate for a no-show for the quiz. A quiz or exam you miss cannot be made up and will be awarded 0 points toward you final grade. This is a non-debatable issue. If you miss three quizzes or two exams you will receive a failing grade for the course. This issue as well is non-debatable.


Attendance and assignment policy: I do not make distinctions between excused and unexcused absences – I assume that if you are not in class, you have a good reason and it’s none of my business.  Therefore, I don’t want to see doctors’ notes, letters from coaches or excuses from parents, for example.  Still, it is not possible to make up missed work done in class, no matter the reason.


Academic integrity:  Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly and creative activity in an open, honest and responsible manner, free from fraud and deception, and is an educational objective of the College of Communications and the university.  Cheating, including plagiarism, falsification of research data, using the same assignment for more than one class, turning in someone else's work, or passively allowing others to copy your work, will result in academic penalties at the discretion of the instructor, and may result in the grade of "XF” (failed for academic dishonesty) being put on your permanent transcript.  In serious cases it could also result in suspension or dismissal from the university. As students studying communication, you should understand and avoid plagiarism (presenting the work of others as your own).  A discussion of plagiarism, with examples, can be found at: The rules and policies regarding academic integrity should be reviewed by every student, and can be found online at: <>, and in the College of Communications document, "Academic Integrity Policy and Procedures." Any student with a question about academic integrity or plagiarism is strongly encouraged to discuss it with his or her instructor.


Note to students with disabilities:  Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. If you have a disability-related need for reasonable academic adjustments in this course, contact the Office for Disability Services, ODS located in room 116 Boucke Building at 814-863-1807(V/TTY). For further information regarding ODS, please visit their web site at Instructors should be notified as early in the semester as possible regarding the need for reasonable academic adjustments.