Access to Audiences as a First Amendment Right: Its Relevance and Implications for Electronic Media Policy


When the issue of speakers’ rights of access arises in media regulation and policy contexts, the focus typically is on the concept of speakers’ rights of access “to the media,” or “to the press.” This right usually is premised on the audience’s need for access to diverse sources and content. In contrast, in many non-mediated contexts, the concept of speakers’ rights of access frequently is defined in terms of the speaker’s own First Amendment right of access to audiences. This paper explores the important distinctions between these differing interpretations of a speaker’s access rights and argues that the concept of a speaker’s right of access to audiences merits a more prominent position in electronic media regulation and policy. This paper then explores the implications of such a shift in perspective for media regulation and policy-making.


Communications Law | Constitutional Law | Internet Law | Law and Society

Date of this Version

June 2006