Vanderbilt Law Review


Frank W. Lloyd

First Page



Cable television as an entertainment medium has been the subject of various federal, state, and local regulatory schemes since its inception in the 1950's. The introduction of nonvideo two-way cable services that provide a capacity for responsive data and voice transmission between users of the two-way system has renewed interest in the appropriate role of government in the regulation of two-way cable services. Telephone companies in particular have pressed state and federal regulators to identify cable two-way systems as common carriers and to impose on them two-way cable common carrier regulations. In this Article Mr. Frank Lloyd discusses actual and possible bases for federal, state, and local jurisdiction over two-way cable services and presents an analysis of the attempts of regulatory bodies to impose common carrier restrictions on these cable systems. Mr. Lloyd argues that common carrier regulation of nonvideo two-way cable services is inappropriate because an interactive cable system is analogous to print publishers subject to first amendment protections, fails to meet the tests for public utility regulation, is a "nondominant" medium,and will suffer from premature regulation. He also discusses the anticompetitive motivation of telephone companies that seek to block the entry of cable into the two-way services market. Mr. Lloyd concludes that preemptive FCC action or federal legislation is needed to prevent undue regulation from inhibiting cable's development of an interactive capacity.