Jimmy Carter and Charles Ferris: The Men Who Shook Up the Federal Communications Commission

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Most broadcast historians credit President Ronald Reagan and FCC Chairman Mark Fowler with pioneering broadcast deregulation during the 1980s. But in reality they only built upon initiatives that were begun during the previous presidential administration. This is surprising because Republicans have historically been depicted as the party that favors free market economics. However, between 1977 and 1981 FCC Chairman Charles Ferris directed the FCC as it made history by modifying U.S. radio, cable TV and telecommunications law. In a four year period, the Democratic appointee reversed the New Deal broadcast regulations instituted during the Roosevelt Administration, and opened the door for the launch of the information revolution. It was a groundbreaking time, but for the most part, neither Ferris, nor the man who appointed him, President Jimmy Carter, has received much recognition for their role in remaking regulatory policy. Perhaps even more importantly, Ferris changed the basic thinking of how the FCC went about rulemaking, which continues to guide the Commission to this day. This study - - utilizing, in part, Ferris's own words from a personal interview - - seeks to correct the record regarding the impact he and Carter had on the FCC. It places their decision making in context and chronicles their rationale in overhauling the FCCs philosophical perspective regarding the electronic media.


Popular Culture/American Culture Association in the South Annual Conference (PCAS/ACAS)


Savannah, GA

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