Faculty Scholarship

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Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, and Apple have been joined by Disney+, Twitch, Facebook, and others to supplant the broadcast industry. As the FCC, FTC, and other regulators struggle, a new digital divide has emerged. The current regulatory regime for television is built upon the government’s right to manage over-the-air broadcasting. As content producers shift away from broadcast and cable, much of the government’s regulatory control will end, resulting in new consequences for public policy and new challenges involving privacy, advertising, and antitrust law. Despite the technological change, there are compelling government interests in a healthy media environment. This article explores the constitutionally valid approaches available to discourage discrimination and digital redlining and instead promote the public interest embodied in the Communications Act. Even as broadcast regulation fades away many of the goals should be pursued, including the promotion of diversity of viewpoint, access to news and educational content, and the fostering of cultural content for those without the financial resources to buy broadband access. In addition, the tracking technologies inherent in online media create a compelling need to protect from the heightened risks to personal privacy. The article calls upon the FTC to become the lead regulator, enforcing the Sherman Act, Clayton Act, and the FTC Act’s provisions to assure that competition, online advertising, customer privacy, and the public interest are rigorously enforced.

Publication Title (Abbreviation)

Me. L. Rev.

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