The Convergence of Broadcasting and Telephony: Legal and Regulatory Implications
Communications & Convergence Review, Vol. 1, Pg. 44, December 2009
12 Pages Posted: 13 Nov 2009 Last revised: 23 Dec 2013
This article, written for the inaugural issue of a new journal, analyzes the extent to which the convergence of broadcasting and telephony induced by the digitization of communications technologies is forcing policymakers to rethink their basic approach to regulating these industries. Now that voice and video are becoming available through every transmission technology, policymakers can no longer define the scope of regulatory obligations in terms of the mode of transmission. In addition, jurisdictions that employ separate agencies to regulate broadcasting and telephony must reform their institutional structures to bring both within the ambit of a single regulatory agency. The emergence of intermodal competition will also place pressure on both telephone-style regulation, which protects against monopoly pricing and vertical exclusion, as well as broadcast-style regulation, which focuses on content and ownership structure. It will also force regulators to rethink social policies such as universal service and public broadcasting. At the same time, it is possible that convergence will be incomplete and that end users will maintain more than one network connection, which would reduce the danger of anticompetitive activity and allow policymakers to stop short of forcing every connection to be everything to everyone. Lastly, the increase in traffic volumes associated with the advent of Internet video may require the deployment of multicast protocols, content delivery networks, and more aggressive traffic management, all of which potentially implicate the debate over network neutrality currently taking place in the U.S.
Keywords: Telecommunications, mass media, broadcast regulation, Internet, regulated industries, economic regulation, cost-of-service ratemaking, intermodal competition, unbundling, vertical exclusion, structural regulation, universal service, public broadcasting, IP video, multicast protocols
JEL Classification: K23, L82, L86, L96, L98
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation