Barry M. ORTON
Professor of Telecommunications and Director of Senior Learning, Liberal Arts and Applied Studies
Phone: (608) 262-2394; email:

Curriculum Vitae

Teaching Interests

  • Telecommunications Policy
  • Internet Utilization
  • Cable Television Regulation

Current Projects

  • Cable TV franchise renewal consultant to numerous municipalities
  • Monitoring cable overbuild efforts by telephone companies
  • The creation of "virtual communities" on the Net
  • Telecommunications policy consultant to local governments


  • B.S. in Business and Economics, Lehigh University
  • M.C.R.P. in City and Regional Planning, Rutgers
  • PhD in City and Regional Planning, Rutgers


  • BS, Economics and Business, 1970, Lehigh University
  • Master of City and Regional Planning, 1972, Rutgers University
  • PhD, 1980, Urban Planning and Policy Development, Rutgers University
  • Title of dissertation: "Media Based Issue Balloting for Regional Planning"

Positions Held

  • University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Communication Programs, Associate Professor, 1985-1988; Professor and Department Chair, 1988 -1992.
  • University of Wisconsin-Extension, Communication Programs, Associate
  • Professor, 1982-85; Assistant Professor, 1980 - 1982.
  • Rutgers University, Assistant Professor, Department of Journalism and Urban Communications, 1974 - 1979.
  • Rutgers University Research Associate, Urban Communications Teaching and Research Center, 1974 - 1979.
  • Rutgers University, Instructor, Department of Community Development,
  • 1972 -1974.
  • Sussna Associates, Trenton, N.J. Consulting Planner, 1971 - 1972.

Professional Activities

  • Telecommunication consultant 1972 -present.
  • Cable television regulation, telecommunication utilization and development, ratemaking, performance monitoring, policy planning.
  • Service to numerous local government clients in Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont and Wisconsin.
  • Founder, Charter Member, National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA), 1980-present. President, Wisconsin Chapter 1986-present. Chair, NATOA National Conference, 1984. Chair, Task Force on Standards, 1984-1986. Keynote Speaker, National Conference, 1990.
  • Board of Contributors, Cable TV and News Media Law and Finance, New York Law Publishing, 1988-present.
  • Editorial Consultant: Oxford University Press, 1976 - 1985
  • Random House, 1977 - 1988
  • Harper & Row, 1977 - 1980
  • Telecommunications Consultant, New Jersey Coalition for Fair Broadcasting, Newark and Trenton, New Jersey, 1974-1979. Director, TV news monitoring project 1977-1978.
  • Associate Director, New Jersey Cable-Video Information Project, Rutgers Urban Communications Teaching Research Center, 1974-76.

Publications (Selected)

  • Books
  • American Mass Media: Industries and Issues. Third Edition. Editor, (with R. Atwan and W. Vesterman). Random House, 1986. Second Edition, 1981; First Edition, 1978.
  • The Cities and Cable Television: Local Regulation and Municipal Uses. Editor. Madison: University of Wisconsin-Extension, 1982.
  • Articles
  • “The Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984: A Compromise That Has Stood The Test of Time,” (with S. Massel) Journal of Municipal Telecommunications Policy, Winter, 2005.
  • “The Facts of Life About Cable Franchises,” (with S. Massel) Illinois Municipal Review, June, 2005
  • "Franchise Transfers: Issues From the Front," Journal of Municipal Telecommunications, Vol. 1, #1, April, 1999.
  • "Public Rights Of Way: It's Not Only Money That Matters," Telecommunications Reports International Journal, Vol. 2 (1), Winter 1998.
  • "Cities, Industry Await 1st Appellate Renewal Case: No Franchise Renewal Revolution Brewing," Cable TV and New Media Law and Finance, New York Law Publishing, Vol. 14 (1), March, 1996.
  • "Is It Time to Pull the Plug On Cable TV Rate Regulation?" Cable TV and New Media Law and Finance, New York Law Publishing, Vol. 13 (3), May, 1995.
  • "Information Industries Betting NETworth on Cyberspace," Cover Story. Once A Year, Milwaukee Press Club. April, 1994.
  • "Regulation Needed After Telcos Enter Cable," Multichannel News, December 6, 1993.
  • "Cashing in on a New Market: Putting Cable on Campus," (with N. Stevenson). Cable TV and New Media Law and Finance, New York Law Publishing, Vol. 11 (5), July, 1993.
  • "What Does the New Federal Act on Cable Mean to Local Governments, Viewers?" (with A. Abramson). The Municipality, League of Wisconsin Municipalities, Vol. 88, (2), February, 1993.
  • "Local Franchising Authorities Enforcing Stricter Standards," (with A. Abramson). Cable TV and New Media Law and Finance, New York Law Publishing, Vol. 10 (2), April, 1992.
  • "In the Boondocks, the Cry is: We Want Our MTV--NOW," (with A. Abramson). Cable TV and New Media Law and Finance, New York Law Publishing, Vol. 8 (12), February, 1991.
  • "Local Franchise Authorities Flexing Remaining Muscles," Cable TV and New Media Law and Finance, Vol. 7, (9), November, 1989.
  • "Franchise Renewals in Classic Cable Markets," Cable TV and New Media Law and Finance, New York Law Publishing Company, Vol. 6, (10), December, 1988.
  • "Franchise Fee Battles Spawn Varied Tactics," Cable TV and New Media Law and Finance, Vol. 5, (12), February, 1988.
  • "Telecommunications Deregulation: Local Impacts." Policy Studies Journal, Vol. 16, No. 1, Autumn, 1987.
  • "Cable Franchise Renewals" (with Q. Jew). The Municipality, League of Wisconsin Municipalities, Vol. 82, (7), June, 1987.
  • "Beyond Cable: Towards Comprehensive Telecommunications Planning and Management," NATOA News, National League of Cities, Vol. 4, No. 7, January/February, 1986.
  • "Telecommunications Technology: Impacts on Transportation and Economic Development," (with H. Tealib), Occasional Paper #18, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, UW-Extension, May, 1985.
  • "New Federal Cable Law and The Wisconsin Connection," The Municipality, League of Wisconsin Municipalities, Vol. 80 (2), February, 1985.
  • "Will Institutional Cable Networks Be Built In Major Market Networks as Promised?" Cable Communications Newsletter, Mason Publishing, Vol. l (16), December, 1983.
  • "Phony Polls: The Pollster's Nemesis," Public Opinion, June/July, 1982.
  • "Mass Media Balloting on Regional Issues: Public Participation or Public Relations?," Environmental Impact Assessment Review, Plenum Press, I (2), 1980.
  • "Generating Public Opinion Data Via Interactive Media, in Teleconferencing and Interactive Media," Madison: University of Wisconsin-Extension, 1980.
  • "FCC to act in New Jersey VHF case," (with R. Ottenhoff), Televisions, IV (3), 1976.
  • "The retired now a force in Jersey counties." The New York Times, Dec. 8, 1974.
  • "The video comprehensive plan: toward electronic participation in the planning process." Urban Telecommunications Forum, II (2), 1973.
  • "Urban communications teaching and research." Radical Software, Gordon & Breach Science Publishers II (4), 1973.

Research Reports and Media Productions

  • The Wisconsin Idea in the Electronic Age Extending University Resource Through Telecommunications. Editor. Report of the UW-Extension Telecommunications Strategic Planning Task Force. Madison: UW-Extension, 1985.
  • "Local television coverage of New Jersey by commercial VHF stations," Petition to Deny filed by the Offices of Attorney General and Public Advocate, State of New Jersey, and Coalition for Fair Broadcasting, 1978.
  • "An electronic news gathering system for New Jersey," (with R. Ottenhoff). FCC Docket 20350, Petition for Inquiry into the Need for Adequate Television Service for the State of New Jersey, 150-227, 1975.
  • "Proposal for improving television news coverage of New Jersey," (with D. Sachsman). Report of the New Jersey Senate Committee on the Adequacy of Television Service to New Jersey, Vol. 1, 47-55, 1975.
  • Image Mix (videotape) (with M. Sherman and C. Suydam) Exhibited: New Jersey State Museum, 1975.
  • So This is America? (videotape) (with M. Orton), Video Arts package, U.S. Information Service. Exhibited: Museum of Modern Art, Paris, 1974.
  • Planning for the Impact of Retirement Communities (film), New Jersey State Office on Aging, 1974.

Major Legislative Activities

  • 1992 Cable Television Subscriber Bill of Rights. Sections 60.23 (24), 66.082 (5), and 134.42 of Wisconsin statutes. Worked with principal sponsor, Rep. Spencer Black, to conceive, draft, present testimony, and negotiate with other legislators. Establishes certain consumer rights for cable TV subscribers, requires local franchise authority approval of transfers of ownership of systems, enables consumer protection powers on local and state levels.
  • 1987 Film Promotion Office. (Sections 20.143 (2) (c) and 560.26 of Wisconsin statutes) Directed conference on need for such an office; testified at hearings, provided research on information on state impact of films production for legislators. Law creates and funds a state film promotion office in the Department of Development.
  • 1986 Defeat of Wisconsin Assembly Bill 506. Represented Wisconsin Association of Local Cable Officials (League of Wisconsin Municipalities) in entire hearing and debate process. Bill would have repealed franchise fee provisions of Section 66.082 (below).
  • 1984-85 Regulation of Cable Television by Municipalities. (Section 66.082 of Wisconsin statutes) Represented Wisconsin municipalities in drafting, hearings, adoption process. Law authorizes local government franchise controls in Wisconsin.
  • 1981 Wisconsin Cable Privacy Act of 1981. (Section 134.43 of Wisconsin statutes) Performed basic research and language drafting. Law protects cable subscriber privacy.


Return to Barry Orton's bio»