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Decision-making for most student broadcasts
protected same as print, online QT24

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As more schools expand their journalism programs to include broadcast and radio, it should be clear how Tinker and Hazelwood positively or negatively affect broadcast programs.

The answer is: it depends.

If they go out over the broadcast airways, Federal Communications Commission regulations apply.

If not, they are not subject to the broadcast-only regulations.

But most student radio and television stations are not truly “broadcast.” They don’t go out over the airwaves but are transmitted via the Internet or a cable or closed circuit system.

In that case, their status is the same as print and online publications.

And, if they are public forums for student expression … check out Quick Tip24, below.

 

Quick Tips: Broadcast programs and media law

Question: How does media law apply to student television and radio programs?

Key points/action

Student television and radio journalists and their advisers frequently ask how the laws apply to them?  Do they have the same free press rights as other student journalists? Are they subject to additional restrictions because of the medium in which they produce content?

The short answers: yes and no.

Stance: Radio and television programming that goes out over the broadcast airwaves via a license from the federal government is subject to additional restrictions on content.

Regulations imposed by the Federal Communications Commission on broadcast stations include limitations on the airing of “indecent” content and requirements that the station air content that serves the public interest.

But most student radio and television stations are not truly “broadcast.” They don’t go out over the airwaves but are transmitted via the Internet or a cable or closed circuit system.

Reasoning/suggestions:

Because these types of stations are not licensed by the FCC, they are not subject to the broadcast-only regulations.

For all these student television and radio programs, the rules that apply to your content are the same that apply to student newspapers, magazines, yearbooks and websites.

The key Supreme Court decisions are Tinker v. Des Moines and Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier. Students at public schools are entitled to protections from censorship based on the First Amendment.

Those protections are stronger if the program is operating as a designated public forum where students have been given the authority to make content decisions.

Related: These points and other decisions about mission statement, forum status and editorial policy should be part of a Foundations Package  that protects journalistically responsible student expression.

 

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