Media Governance & Policy



1733 Peter Singer trial establishes “truth” as a defense against libel charges
1789 First Amendment to Constitution grants freedom of press
1791 First US copyright law enacted
1798-1800 Alien and Sedition Acts temporarily try to limit press criticism of government


1865 International Telecommunication Union formed to set telegraph standards
1896- Maryland's General Assembly enacted the nation's first shield law, protecting journalists under certain circumstances from having to reveal their sources.


1915 Mutual Film Corp. v. Ohio Industrial Commission
1927 Federal Radio Commission created to allocate radio frequencies
1928- May 25, 1928 the Supreme Court Upheld the application of the Public Nuisance Law against The Saturday Press in the Near vs. Minnesotacase.
1934 Federal Communications Commission created
1944 first instance of television censorship – NBC turns off a song that has ‘questionable lyrics’
1947 “Hollywood 10” are cited for contempt of Congress for refusing to give testimony to the House Committee on Un-American Activities and are subsequently denied employment based on their alleged membership in or sympathy toward the American Communist Party
1947 Hutchins Commission report urges social responsibility for media
1949 The Fairness Doctrine is introduced.
1954 US Senate hearings on the effects of television violence on juvenile delinquency
1961 Second round of Senate hearings on television violence
1964 Hustler Magazine vs. Falwell. The Supreme Court protected the media's use of Free Speech by prohibiting public figures receiving compensation for emotional damages intentionally inflicted upon them.
1966 Cable banned from large cities
1967 Public Broadcasting Act
1968 MPAA movie ratings introduced
1972 Surgeon General's report on television and social behavior released
Urban cable ban lifted, FCC requires cable companies to provide local access
1978 National Telecommunications and Information Administration established
1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act extended government surveillance of information from telephone calls to include transmissions of electronic data by computer
1987 The Fairness Doctrine is repealed
1990 Milkovich vs. Lorain Journal. The Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment does not automatically shield expressions of opinion from being found libelous.

1. 11990 Children's Television Act mandates broadcast television programming specifically designed for children

1996 Telecommunications Act passes, relaxes broadcast ownership rules, deregulates cable television, mandates television content ratings
Communications Decency Act passed (later repealed by Supreme Court for First Amendment violation)
1997 Parental advisories instituted for television programs
1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Term Extension Act enacted
1998 Children's Online Privacy Protection Act passed (later repealed by 1998 Supreme Court for First Amendment violation)


2000 The Children's Internet Protection Act passes limiting exposure to 2000 pornography and other explicit online content
2000 Microsoft found guilty of antitrust violations
2003 FCC Institutes relaxed media ownership rules
2003 CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing) Act sets US standards for the sending of commercial e-mail
2006 The Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act of 2005 became law.
2008 Telephone numbers placed on the National Do Not Call Registry will remain on it permanently due to the Do-Not-Call Improvement Act of 2007, which became law in February 2008