Federal Communications Law Journal

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Citation

56 Federal Communications Law Journal 239 (2003)


New technological devices which allow consumers to skip commercials are driving corporations to engage in alternative advertising. The development of more “organic” methods of integrating products into the content of television programs makes those advertisements much more difficult to detect. As it becomes more difficult to divorce the product being sold from the content of the program, it also becomes more difficult to determine whether or not an advertisement actually exists. Without such blatant references, these programs would be likely candidates to appear on public access channels. This poses a severe threat to the service that those channels were intended to provide to the public. The influence of advertisers could have devastating impacts on the rights of the public to have meaningful access to the public airwaves. This Note urges states, municipalities, and cable franchisees to include provisions in their cable franchise agreements such as those found in the cable franchise agreement of the Town of Oyster Bay, New York, prohibiting any level of commercial programming on public access channels. It also urges courts take great care in interpreting these statutory and contract provisions so as to minimize the dangers that advertisers pose to the freedom of the public to have meaningful access to public airwaves.