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Access to the Media Versus Access to Audiences: The Distinction and its Implications for Media Regulation and Policy
Unformatted Document Text:  13 preserving “public order.” 33 Both of these functions of First Amendment rights have been categorized as belonging to the “collectivist” bundle of First Amendment functions, given that the benefits accrue to the community as a whole. 34 Thus, audiences are the primary beneficiaries of a vigorous First Amendment in this context. Nowhere in his piece does Barron develop an argument that the First Amendment rights of speakers, in particular, are being abridged by the changes in technology, distribution, and ownership affecting the system of communication in this country. Similarly, when Barron and others argued for a right of access to the print media in Miami Herald, they argued “that government has an obligation to ensure that a wide variety of views reach the public,” 35 an argument that reflects the philosophy that “diversity of ideas . . . is the primary objective of the first amendment” 36 and again prioritizes collectivist First Amendment values over individualist First Amendment values. Thus, somewhat ironically, when the courts speak of a right of access to the media, they typically are not actually talking about an individual’s First Amendment right of access to the media; rather, they are talking about a right of access to the media that has been granted to the individual in the name of the First Amendment rights of the community as a whole. Distinctions Between Access to Audiences and Access to the Media On the surface, it may seem that the concepts of access to audiences and access to the media basically are synonymous. This is not the case, particularly in the highly complex, fragmented, and increasingly consolidated media environment of today. 37 Indeed, just 30 years in the past it may have been easier to assume congruence of the concepts of access to the media and access to audiences, given 33 Supra, note 15 at 1648-1649. 34 Napoli, supra note 28. 35 Supra, note 23 at 247-248. 36 Supra, note 16 at 498. 37 See generally, James.N. Horwood, Public, Educational, and Governmental Access on Cable Television: A Model to Assure Reasonable Access to the Information Superhighway for All People in Fulfillment of the First Amendment Guarantee of Free Speech, 25 S ETON H ALL L. R EV . 1413 (1995).

Authors: Napoli, Philip.
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13
preserving “public order.”
33
Both of these functions of First Amendment rights have been categorized
as belonging to the “collectivist” bundle of First Amendment functions, given that the benefits accrue to
the community as a whole.
34
Thus, audiences are the primary beneficiaries of a vigorous First
Amendment in this context. Nowhere in his piece does Barron develop an argument that the First
Amendment rights of speakers, in particular, are being abridged by the changes in technology,
distribution, and ownership affecting the system of communication in this country.
Similarly, when Barron and others argued for a right of access to the print media in Miami
Herald, they argued “that government has an obligation to ensure that a wide variety of views reach the
public,”
35
an argument that reflects the philosophy that “diversity of ideas . . . is the primary objective of
the first amendment”
36
and again prioritizes collectivist First Amendment values over individualist First
Amendment values. Thus, somewhat ironically, when the courts speak of a right of access to the media,
they typically are not actually talking about an individual’s First Amendment right of access to the media;
rather, they are talking about a right of access to the media that has been granted to the individual in the
name of the First Amendment rights of the community as a whole.
Distinctions Between Access to Audiences and Access to the Media
On the surface, it may seem that the concepts of access to audiences and access to the media
basically are synonymous. This is not the case, particularly in the highly complex, fragmented, and
increasingly consolidated media environment of today.
37
Indeed, just 30 years in the past it may have
been easier to assume congruence of the concepts of access to the media and access to audiences, given
33
Supra, note 15 at 1648-1649.
34
Napoli, supra note 28.
35
Supra, note 23 at 247-248.
36
Supra, note 16 at 498.
37
See generally, James.N. Horwood, Public, Educational, and Governmental Access on Cable Television: A Model
to Assure Reasonable Access to the Information Superhighway for All People in Fulfillment of the First Amendment
Guarantee of Free Speech,
25 S
ETON
H
ALL
L. R
EV
. 1413 (1995).


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