Media deregulation limits government control over media companies. It has caused dramatic political and economic changes in the U.S. media industry since the 1980s, while also inspiring intense ideological debate.
Media deregulation refers to the process of removing or loosening government restrictions on the ownership of media outlets. For example, prior to the 1980s, a company could own a maximum of 14 radio stations. In an act of media deregulation, the government lifted this restriction, and some companies now own thousands of radio stations.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), created in 1934, regulates all broadcast media in the United States. The first step toward media deregulation occurred in 1980, when the FCC eliminated a rule requiring corporations to own a radio or TV station for at least three years before selling it. The FCC continued to deregulate the media after this decision.
Advocates of media deregulation argue that it restores the natural market forces of the media industry, making media companies more efficient and profitable. Opponents of media deregulation say that it lessens minority access to the media and hurts journalistic integrity, because those aspects of the media are not profit-driven.