Federal Communications Commission

Federal Communications Commission in the United States

Introduction to Federal Communications Commission

Federal Communications Commission (FCC), independent agency of the United States government created in 1934, with jurisdiction over communications in the 50 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. The function of the commission is to regulate interstate and foreign radio, television, wire, and cable communications; to provide for orderly development and operation of broadcasting services; to provide for rapid, efficient nationwide and worldwide telegraph and telephone service; to promote the safety of life and property through the use of wire and radio communications; and to employ communications facilities for strengthening national defense.

In the field of radio, the FCC regulates amplitude modulation (AM) and frequency modulation (FM) broadcasting and other kinds of radio services. It issues construction permits and licenses for all nongovernmental radio stations. It also assigns frequencies, operating power, and call signs; inspects transmitting equipment, and regulates the use of such equipment. Television broadcasting is regulated by the FCC in the same manner. The commission also regulates the use of cable channels and the quality of service delivered by cable television.

In common-carrier operations, which include telephone, telegraph, radio, and satellite communications, the FCC issues regulations and supervises service. The FCC is responsible for domestic administration of the telecommunications provisions of treaties and international agreements, and licenses radio and cable circuits from the United States to foreign points. The Emergency Broadcast System, which alerts and instructs the public in the event of enemy attack, is supervised by the FCC; the system is regularly used for broadcasting weather warnings and may also be used in local emergencies.

The FCC is administered by five commissioners appointed by the president, with approval of the Senate, to five-year terms.” (1)


The Federal Communications Commission regulates interstate and foreign
communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was created by the
Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 151 et seq.) to regulate interstate and
foreign communications by wire and radio in the public interest. The scope
of FCC regulation includes radio and television broadcasting; telephone,
telegraph, and cable television operation; two-way radio and radio operators; and
satellite communication.

The Commission comprises ?ve members, who are appointed by the
President with the advice and consent of the Senate. One of the members is
designated by the President as Chairman.


Media Bureau

The Media Bureau develops, recommends, and administers policy and licensing programs for the regulation, in the United States and its territories, of electronic media, including cable television, multichannel video programming distribution, broadcast television and radio, and satellite services. The Bureau also:

  • conducts rulemaking proceedings, studies and analyzes electronic media services;
  • esolves waiver petitions, declaratory rulings, and adjudications related to electronic media services; and
  • processes applications for authorization, assignment, transfer, and renewal of media services, including AM, FM, TV, the cable TV relay service, and related matters.

Wireline Competition Bureau

The Wireline Competition Bureau advises and makes recommendations to the FCC. The Wireline Competition Bureau:

  • ensures choice, opportunity, and fairness in the development of wireline
  • assesses the present and future wireline communication needs of the United States;
  • encourages the development and widespread availability of wireline communication services;
  • promotes investment in wireline communication infrastructure; and
  • reviews and coordinates orders, programs, and actions initiated by other bureaus and of?ces in matters affecting wireline communications to ensure consistency with overall FCC policy.

Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau

The Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau develops and administers the FCC’s consumer and governmental affairs policies and initiatives. The Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau:

  • facilitates public participation in the Commission’s decisionmaking process; represents the Commission on consumer and Government committees, working groups, task forces, and conferences;
  • works with public, Federal, State, local, and tribal agencies to develop and coordinate policies;
  • oversees the Consumer Advisory Committee and the Intergovernmental Advisory Committee;
  • provides expert advice and assistance regarding compliance with applicable disability and accessibility requirements, rules, and regulations;
  • resolves informal complaints through mediation; and
  • conducts consumer outreach and education programs.

Enforcement Bureau

The Enforcement Bureau serves as the FCC’s primary agency for enforcing the Communications Act, other communications statutes, and the Commission’s rules and orders. The Bureau investigates and resolves:

  • complaints regarding common carriers (wireline, wireless, and international)
    and noncommon carriers subject to the Commission’s jurisdiction under Title
    II of the Communications Act;
  • radio frequency interference, equipment, and devices;
  • accessibility to communications services and equipment for persons with
  • noncompliance with the lighting and marking of radio transmitting
    towers and pole attachment regulations;
  • noncompliance with children’s television programming commercial limits; and
  • unauthorized construction and operation of communication facilities and false distress signals.

For further information, see in Internet: http://www.fcc.gov/eb.

International Bureau

The International Bureau serves as the FCC’s principal representative in international
organizations. The International Bureau:

  • monitors compliance with the terms and conditions of authorizations and licenses granted by the Bureau and enforces them in conjunction with appropriate bureaus and of?ces;
  • provides advice and technical assistance to U.S. trade of?cials in the negotiation and implementation of telecommunications trade agreements; and
  • promotes the international coordination of spectrum allocation and frequency and orbital assignments in order to minimize cases of international radio interference involving U.S. licenses.

Wireless Telecommunications Bureau

The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau administers all domestic commercial
and private wireless communication programs and rules. The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau:

  • addressess present and future wireless communication and spectrum needs;
  • promotes access, ef?ciency, and innovation in the allocation, licensing, and use of
    electromagnetic spectrum;
  • ensures choice, opportunity, and fairness in the development of wireless communication services and markets; promotes the development and widespread availability of wireless broadband, mobile, and other wireless communication services, devices, and facilities, including through open networks;
  • develops, recommends, administers, and coordinates policy for wireless communication services, including rulemaking, interpretations, and equipment standards;
  • explains rules to and advises the public on them and provides rule-interpretation material for the Enforcement Bureau;
  • serves as the FCC’s principal policy and administrative resource for all spectrum auctions; and
  • processes wireless service and facility authorization applications.

Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau

The Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau develops, recommends, and administers FCC’s policies pertaining to public safetycommunication. This includes:

  • 911 and E911;
  • operability and interoperability of public safety communications;
  • communications infrastructure protection and disaster response; and
  • network security and reliability.

The Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau also serves as a clearinghouse for public safety communication information, which encompasses:

  • priority emergency communication programs;
  • alert and warning of U.S. citizens;
  • continuity of government operations and operational planning;
  • public safety outreach (e.g. ?rst-responder organizations and hospitals);
  • disaster management coordination and outreach;
  • FCC 24/7 Communication Center; and
  • studies and reports of public safety, homeland security, and disaster management issues.

Commission Legal Materials

The FCC Home Page says the agency’s mission is to “encourage competition in all communications markets and to protect the public interest.” A friend of mine used to work for the FCC, and that seems pretty much in accord with what she used to do.

The FCC Web site posts information about the agency, upcoming auctions of frequency licenses, FCC forms, consumer information, etc., plus a copy of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and related materials (www.fcc.gov). The site also provides information on enforcement actions (www.fcc.gov/eb/tcd/working.html).

FCC decisions, reports, public notices and other documents are published in theFederal Communications Commission Reports (1934-1965), the Federal Communications Commission Reports (1966-1986) and the FCC Record (1987-Present).

FCC decisions back to 1996 are searchable free through the FCC’s EDOCS. FCC decisions are searchable back to 1934 on Lexis (TELECOM;FCC) and Westlaw(FCOM-FCC).

Citations from the FCC Record can be pulled off Lexis using the following format: xx FCC Rcd xxxx.

You can find subsequent decisions and cases citing a particular FCC decision using KeyCite on Westlaw.

Telecommunication companies are required to file a Form 499-A that provides contact information, the names of corporate officers, the agent for service of process and the states where the company operates. You can look up this information using the Form 499 Filer Search.

To find more FCC-related materials, see Georgetown University Law Library’s bibliography of Communications Law guide.

Docketed proceedings and rulemakings: You can search for proceedings and filings from 1992 to the present using the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System. You can track filings in FCC proceedings with TheDCoffice.com(subscription).

Licenses and Licensing: To file for a license or to search for a license, use the FCC’s Universal Licensing System (ULS).

Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991: In addition to the general sources, FCC Orders relating to the TCPA are available on TCPALaw.com.

Communications (in General) Legal Materials

For an overview of the important communications law resources, see, Sara Kelley Burriesci’s “Introduction to Federal Communications Law Sources,” 53(4) Law Library Lights 21 (Summer 2010).

Federal Communications Commission, Sexual Behaviour and the Law

Federal Communications Commission Background

U.S. Federal Communications Commission (Communications Law)

This section introduces, discusses and describes the basics of u.s. federal communications commission. Then, cross references and a brief overview about Communications Lawin relation to u.s. federal communications commission is provided. Note that a list of bibliography resources and other aids appears at the end of this entry.


Notes and References

See Also

Media Law

Further Reading

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Federal Communications Commission (fcc) in the International Business Landscape

Definition of Federal Communications Commission (fcc) in the context of U.S. international business and public trade policy: Federal agency that regulates interstate and foreign communications by radio, television, wire, and cable.

Federal Communications Commission: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Federal Communications Commission. This part provides references, in relation to Federal Communications Commission, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Federal Communications Commission by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Federal Communications Commission and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Federal Communications Commission or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Federal Communications Commission and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Federal Communications Commission. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Federal Communications Commission should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Federal Communications Commission when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

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