Federal Communications Law Journal

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Citation

56 Federal Communications Law Journal 299 (2004)


In this Article, Menahem Blondheim presents a critical historical analysis of the dawn of communications regulation as it began with the evolution of domestic telegraphy and developed into a coherent link between 19th century technological, business, and social developments and twentieth century First Amendment thought. First, the Article examines the political and economic environment which led to the development of national telegraph and news networks, like Western Union and the Associated Press. The Author then proceeds to assess the role of the mid-to-late nineteenth century American legislature, and how the debate over telegraph and wire service regulation realigned the powers of government, judiciary, and corporate America. Next, the Article explores the tensions that developed with respect to the Associated Press and Western Union monopolies, and how the judiciary entered the scene of communications regulation at this critical juncture. Finally, the Author suggests that the history of the development of this early communications network frames current legal debates over the proper roles of government and private industry in the communications regulatory environment.