31 J. Broad. & Elec. Media 193 (1987)
Perceived Impact of the Cable Policy Act of 1984

handle is hein.journals/jbem31 and id is 203 raw text is: lournal ot'Broadcasting & Electronic Media
Volume 31, Number 2, Spring 1987, pp. 193-205
Perceived Impact of the Cable Policy Act
of 1984
Wenmouth Williams, Jr. and Kathleen Mahoney
The Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984 was the result of negotiations
between local governments and the cable television industry. Not all affected
parties agreed the Act would benefit them. The purpose of this survey of local
regulators and cable companies was to assess perceptions of current relation-
ships and the perceived impact of the Act. The results indicated that those from
the cable industry most satisfied with the status quo were deregulated franchises
who felt the new law would benefit them. Local regulators with franchises
requiring public hearings prior to changes felt the new law would have negative
effects.
In October 1984 Congress acted to set regulatory policy for the cable
television industry by passing the Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984
(Cable Act). The new law attempted to strike a delicate regulatory balance
between the FCC, local governments, and marketplace competition where,
in the past, each of these entities had vied for dominance. The Cable Act
was to be the solution to the ongoing problem of who, or what, should
exercise the most power over local cable operations. The law was passed at
a time when the conflicts between cable operators and local regulators
were at their peak (Cooney, 1983; Cox, Marquette Cablevision Agree on
Suit Settlement, 1983; Franchise Promises Come Back to Haunt Warner,
1984; Landro, 1983; Stoller, 1984). Many of the conflicts arose in newly
franchised urban areas in which cable operators, faced with competition
for what were believed to be lucrative franchises, promised services that
could not be delivered economically. In addition, cities demanded state-
of-the-art systems in their Requests for Proposals with little regard for the
cost of such systems. The Cable Act was, in part, designed to curtail this
Wenmouth Williams, Ir. (Ph.D., Florida State University, 1974) is Associate Professor in the TV-
Radio Department at Ithaca College. His research interests include policy and media effects. Kath-
leen Mahoney (Ph.D., Indiana University, 1983) is Assistant Professor in the TV-Radio Department
at Ithaca College. Her research interests include legal, political, and management issues. This
study was funded by an Ithaca College faculty grant. The authors thank Kathy Wolverton for her
assistance. This manus ript was accepted for publication December 1986.
@) 1987 Broadcast Edu ation Association

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