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Chapters 9-14


Vague; not legally precise; term for sexually oriented material


Narrow legal term referring to sexual expression inappropriate for children on broadcast radio and television

Hicklin Rule

defines material as obscene if it tends to corrupt children

Patently offensive

term describing hard core sexual conduct

Serious Social Value

Material cannot be found obscene if it has serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value determined by national, not local standards

Variable obscenity

concept that sexually oriented material would not meet the definition of obscenity if distributed to adults but would be found obscene if distributed to minors

Safe Harbor Policy

FCC policy designating 10pm to 6am as a time when broadcast radio and television may air indecent material without violating federal law or FCC regulations

Tortious Newsgathering

uses of reporting techniques that are unlawful and for which a victim may obtain damages in court

Wiretap act

Federal law initially passed in 1968 to protect the privacy of phone calls and other oral conversations. Has been amended many times due to advancing technology. Makes it illegal to intercept, record, or disseminate a private communication without one party's permission.

Driver's Privacy Protection Act

Federal legislation prohibiting states from disclosing personal information that drivers submit in order to obtain driver's licenses.

Freedom of information act

1966 act that requires records held by federal government agencies to be made public unless it falls into one of these nine categories: 1) National Security, 2) Internal agency rules and procedures, 3) Disclosures forbidden by other statutes, 4) Trade secrets, 5) Agency memoranda, 6) personal privacy, 7) law enforcement records, 8) financial records, and 9) geological information.

Electronic Freedom of Information Act

A 1996 amendment to to the Freedom of Information act that updates the act by including electronically stored information and subjecting it to the FOIA's provisions.

Government in Sunshine Act

Sometimes referred to as the Federal Open Meetings Law, an act passed in 1976 that mandates that meetings of federal government agencies be open to the public unless all or some part of a meeting is exempted according to exceptions outlined in the law.

For-Cause Challenge

In the context of jury selection, the ability of attorneys to remove a potential juror for a reason the law finds sufficient.


To select and seat a jury

Contempt of Court

Any act that is judged to hinder or obstruct a court in its administration of justice.

Civil Contempt

Acts, generally outside the courtroom, that defy court orders or obstruct court proceedings, such as failur to comply with a subpeona; sometimes called "indirect contempt."

Criminal Contempt

Conduct in or near a court that willfully disregards the court's authority; sometimes referred to as "direct contempt."

Experience and logic test

A doctrine that determines the presumptive openness of judicial proceedings on the basis of their history and the role it plays in the credibility of the process.

Reporter's privilege

The concept that reporters can keep information such as a source's identity confidential. Similar to "doctor-patient privilege"

Shield Laws

State laws that protect journalists from being found in contempt of court for refusing to reveal sources.

Promissory Estoppel

A legal doctrine requiring liability when a clear and unambiguous promise is made and is relied on and injury results from breaking that promise.

Generally applicable law

A law enforced evenly across the board. In the context of the 1st Amendment, it is the idea that the freedom of the press law doesn't exempt journalists from obeying laws.

Federal Radio Commission

A federal agency established by the Federal Radio Act in 1927 to oversee radio broadcasting. Succeeded by FCC.

Federal Communications Commission

An independent U.S. government agency, directly responsible to Congress, charged with regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable. Established by the Communications Act of 1934.

Spectrum scarcity

The limitation that arises because only a certain number of broadcast radio and television stations in a geographical area may use the spectrum without causing interference with other stations' signals. Primary reason courts give for allowing the FCC to regulate broadcasters.

Lowest Unit Rate

The maximum rate at which broadcasters may charge a politician for advertising time during the 45 days before primary elections and the 60 days before genera elections.

Zapple rule

Broadcasting rule that allows candidate's supporter's equal opportunity to use broadcast stations if the candidate's opponents use the stations.


Contract or agreement between a government, usually a city, and a cable system operator.

Franchising Authority

Governmental unit granting a franchise to a cable system operator.

Franchising Fees

The charges cable companies pay to franchising authorities for the right to use public rights-of-way.

Retransmission Consent

Part of the federal cable television law allowing broadcast television stations to negotiate.

PEG Access Channels

Channels that cable systems set aside for public, educational, and governmental use.

Citizens United v. FEC

Citizens United funded a movie attacking Hillary Clinton, a violation of the BCRA Act. The BCRA Act prohibiting corporations from providing money to political campaigns was found unconstitutional because corporations have the same 1st amendment rights as a person.


AT&T didn't want to release documents about one of its education programs, claiming that they had the right to privacy under the Freedom of Information Act, exemption 7-just as any individual person would. Exemption 7 was found not applicable to corporations because AT&T failed to provide a reason why the information could not be disclosed.

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