Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

Architectural Censorship and the FCC

64 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2005  

Christopher S. Yoo

University of Pennsylvania Law School; University of Pennsylvania - Annenberg School for Communication; University of Pennsylvania - School of Engineering and Applied Science


Most First Amendment analyses of U.S. media policy have focused predominantly on behavioral regulation, which either prohibits the transmission of disfavored content (such as indecent programming) or mandates the dissemination of preferred content (such as children's educational programming and political speech). In so doing, commentators have largely overlooked how program content is also affected by structural regulation, which focuses primarily on increasing the economic competitiveness of the media industries. In this symposium contribution, Professor Christopher Yoo employs economic analysis to demonstrate how structural regulation represents a form of architectural censorship that has the unintended consequence of reducing the quantity, quality, and diversity of media content. The specific examples analyzed include: (1) efforts to foster and preserve free television and radio, (2) rate regulation of cable television, (3) horizontal restrictions on the number of outlets one entity can own in a local market, and (4) regulations limiting vertical integration in television and radio. Unfortunately, current First Amendment doctrine effectively immunizes architectural censorship from meaningful constitutional scrutiny. As a result, Congress and the FCC must bear the primary responsibility for safeguarding free speech values against these dangers.

Keywords: Telecommunications and Regulated Industries, antitrust, constitutional law

JEL Classification: K21, L96

Suggested Citation

Yoo, Christopher S., Architectural Censorship and the FCC. Southern California Law Review, Vol. 78, March 2005. Available at SSRN:

Christopher S. Yoo (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )

3501 Sansom St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6204
United States
(215) 746-8772 (Phone)


University of Pennsylvania - Annenberg School for Communication ( email )

3620 Walnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6220
United States
(215) 746-8772 (Phone)

University of Pennsylvania - School of Engineering and Applied Science ( email )

3330 Walnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6309
United States
(215) 746-8772 (Phone)

Paper statistics

Abstract Views