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47 Federal Communications Law Journal 123 (1994)


Public access, viewed as the voice on cable for those outside the mainstream, has recently been criticized as nothing more than an unregulated channel for objectionable hate speech and indecent programming. When Congress passed the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992, cable operators found themselves in the conflicting role of being liable for indecent and obscene programming on public access, while at the same time unable to exercise any editorial control over access content. All sides are now waiting to see if the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit will strike down these access rules as unconstitutional. This Note argues that while public access is often unsavory to viewers, it is an invaluable asset for providing information and expression not available on other channels. The medium should not be regulated by government bodies, but by the viewer and access user through effective counter-programming and the use of lockboxes.