Telecommunications localism: the fight for control over local communication networks in the United States

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While called the “bedrock” and “cornerstone” of US media policy, the localism principle has been chipped away over 40 years by the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) full throated embrace of market-based practices. Recently, however, localism has emerged as a pivotal battleground in telecommunications. Through case studies of three recent regulatory issues—local cable franchising, municipal broadband, and small cell deployment—this paper examines the role of localism in US-based cable and telecommunications policy. It coins the term “telecommunications localism” to capture the changing technological focus of media regulation, from content to infrastructure. In regulatory actions over the past decade the FCC has simultaneously acknowledged local municipalities’ role in telecommunications deployment and actively worked to curtail this power through deregulation. These deregulatory actions strip municipalities of their autonomy over license negotiations and local rights of way and stymies the development and deployment of local communication systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-22
Number of pages16
JournalMedia International Australia
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication

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