FCC n : an independent governmeent agency that regulates interstate and international communications by radio and television and wire and cable and satellite [syn: Federal Communications Commission]
- Federal Communications Commission.
- Farm Credit Corporation.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is a United States government agency, created, directed, and empowered by Congressional statute (see and ), and with the majority of its commissioners appointed by the current president.
The FCC was established by the Communications Act of 1934 as the successor to the Federal Radio Commission and is charged with regulating all non-Federal Government use of the radio spectrum (including radio and television broadcasting), and all interstate telecommunications (wire, satellite and cable) as well as all international communications that originate or terminate in the United States. It is an important factor in US telecommunication policy. The FCC took over wire communication regulation from the Interstate Commerce Commission.
The FCC's jurisdiction covers the 50 states of the United States of America, the District of Columbia, and U.S. possessions.
It is organized into seven Bureaus and ten Staff Offices. 'The Bureaus’ include processing applications for licenses and other filings, analyzing complaints, conducting investigations, developing and implementing regulations, and participating in hearings.
- The Consumer & Governmental Affairs (CGB) develops and implements the FCC's consumer policies, including disability access. CGB serves as the public face of the FCC through outreach and education, as well as through their Consumer Center, which is responsible for responding to consumer inquiries and complaints. CGB also maintains collaborative partnerships with state, local, and tribal governments in such areas as emergency preparedness and implementation of new technologies.
- The Enforcement Bureau (EB) is responsible for enforcement of provisions of the Communications Act 1934, FCC rules, FCC orders, and terms and conditions of station authorizations. Major areas of enforcement that are handled by the Enforcement Bureau are consumer protection, local competition, public safety, and homeland security.
- The International Bureau (IB) develops international policies in telecommunications, such as coordination of frequency allocation and orbital assignments so as to minimize cases of international electromagnetic interference involving U.S. licensees. The International Bureau also oversees FCC compliance with the international Radio Regulations and other international agreements.
- The Media Bureau (MB) develops, recommends and administers the policy and licensing programs relating to electronic media, including cable television, broadcast television, and radio in the United States and its territories. The Media Bureau also handles post-licensing matters regarding direct broadcast satellite service.
- The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) handles nearly all FCC domestic wireless telecommunications programs, policies, and outreach initiatives. Wireless services include: amateur radio; cellular networks; paging; Personal Communications Service; and Part 27 Wireless Communications Services (WCS) such as Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) and fixed, mobile, and broadcast services on the 700 MHz Band.
- The Wireline Competition Bureau (WCB) develops policy concerning wireline telecommunications. The Wireline Competition Bureau’s main objective is to promote growth and economical investments in wireline technology infrastructure, development, markets, and services.
- Establishment of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau is a priority of Chairman Kevin Martin. The Bureau was launched in 2006.
OfficesThe FCC's Offices provide reliable support services to the Bureaus. Even though the Bureaus and Offices have their individual functions, they regularly work together on FCC issues.
- The Office of Administrative Law Judges (OALJ) is responsible for conducting hearings ordered by the Commission. The hearing function includes acting on interlocutory requests filed in the proceedings such as petitions to intervene, petitions to enlarge issues, and contested discovery requests. An Administrative Law Judge, appointed under the Administrative Procedure Act, presides at the hearing during which documents and sworn testimony are received in evidence, and witnesses are cross-examined. At the conclusion of the evidentiary phase of a proceeding, the presiding Administrative Law Judge writes and issues an Initial Decision which may be appealed to the Commission.
- The Office of Communications Business Opportunities (OCBO) promotes telecommunications business opportunities for small, minority-owned, and women-owned businesses. OCBO works with entrepreneurs, industry, public interest organizations, individuals, and others to provide information about FCC policies, increase ownership and employment opportunities, foster a diversity of voices and viewpoints over the airwaves, and encourage participation in FCC proceedings.
- The Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) advises the
Commission concerning engineering matters. Its chief role is to
manage the electromagnetic
spectrum, specifically frequency allocation and spectrum usage.
OET conducts technical studies of advanced phases of terrestrial
and space communications and administers FCC rules regarding radio
devices, experimental radio services, and industrial, scientific,
and medical equipment.
- OET also organizes the Technical Advisory Council, a committee of FCC advisors from major telecommunication and media corporations.
- In addition, the OET operates the Equipment Authorization Branch, which is tasked with overseeing equipment authorization for all devices using the electromagnetic energy from 9 kHz to 300 GHz. OET maintains an electronic database of all Certified equipment which can be easily accessed by the public.
- The Office of General Counsel serves as the chief legal advisor to the Commission. The General Counsel also represents the Commission in litigation in United States federal courts, recommends decisions in adjudicatory matters before the Commission, assists the Commission in its decision making capacity and performs a variety of legal functions regarding internal and other administrative matters.
- The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) recommends policies to prevent fraud in agency operations. The Inspector General recommends corrective action where appropriate, referring criminal matters to the United States Department of Justice for potential prosecution.
- The Office of Legislative Affairs (OLA) is the FCC’s liaison to the United States Congress, providing lawmakers with information about FCC regulations. OLA also prepares FCC witnesses for Congressional hearings, and helps create FCC responses to legislative proposals and Congressional inquiries. In addition, OLA is a liaison to other Federal agencies, as well as state and local governments.
- The Office of the Managing Director (OMD) is responsible for the administration and management of the FCC, including the agency's budget, personnel, security, contracts, and publications.
- The Office of Media Relations (OMR) is responsible for the dissemination of Commission announcements, orders, proceedings, and other information per media requests. OMR manages the FCC Daily Digest, website, and Audio Visual Center.
- The Office of the Secretary (OSEC) oversees the receipt and distribution of documents filed by the public through electronic and paper filing systems and the FCC Library collection. In addition, OSEC publishes legal notices of Commission decisions in the Federal Register and the FCC Record.
- The Office of Strategic Planning & Policy Analysis (OSP), essentially a think tank within the FCC, identifies policy objectives for the agency and xerxes. OSP works closely with the FCC Chairman and is responsible for monitoring the state of the communications industry to identify trends, issues and overall industry health. OSP acts as expert consultants to the Commission in areas of economic, business, and market analysis. The Office also reviews legal trends and developments not necessarily related to current FCC proceedings, such as intellectual property law, the Internet, and electronic commerce. Previously OSP was called the Office of Plans and Policy (OPP). Catherine Bohigian has been the chief of the OSP since 2005.
- The Office of Workplace Diversity (OWD) develops policy to provide a full and fair opportunity for all employees, regardless of non-merit factors such as race, religion, gender, color, age, disability, sexual orientation or national origin, to carry out their duties in the workplace free from unlawful discriminatory treatment, including sexual harassment and retaliation for engaging in legally protected activities.
Communications Act of 1934In 1934 Congress passed the Communications Act, which abolished the Federal Radio Commission and transferred jurisdiction over radio licensing to a new Federal Communications Commission. Title III of the Communications Act contained provisions very similar to the Radio Act of 1927, and the new FCC largely took over the operations and precedents of the FRC.
Report on Chain BroadcastingIn 1940 the Federal Communications Commission issued the "Report on Chain Broadcasting." The major point in the report was the breakup of NBC (National Broadcasting Company), but there were two other important points. One was network option time, the culprit here being CBS. The report limited the amount of time during the day, and what times the networks may broadcast. Previously a network could demand any time it wanted from an affiliate. The second concerned artist bureaus. The networks served as both agents and employees of artists, which was a conflict of interest the report rectified.
Telecommunications Act of 1996In 1996 Congress enacted the Telecommunications Act of 1996, in the wake of the break-up of AT&T resulting from the U.S. Justice Department's antitrust suit against AT&T. In part, the 1996 legislation attempted to create more competition in local telephone service by requiring Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers to provide access to their facilities for Competitive Local Exchange Carriers.
This policy has thus far had limited success and much criticism. See. e.g. Robert crandall The development of the internet, cable services and wireless services has raised questions whether new legislative initiates are needed as to competition in what has come to be called 'broadband' services. Congress has monitored developments but not as of 2007 undertaken a major revision of applicable regulation.
Consolidation permissivity, indecency crackdownsThe inauguration of Ronald Reagan as President of the United States in 1981 accelerated an already on-going shift in the FCC towards a decidedly more market-oriented stance. A number of regulations felt to be outdated were removed, most controversially the Fairness Doctrine in 1987. The FCC also took steps to increase competition to broadcasters, fostering broadcast alternatives such as cable television.
In the early 2000s, the FCC began stepping up censorship and enforcement of indecency regulations again, most notably following the Janet Jackson "wardrobe malfunction" that occurred during the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVIII. However, the FCC's regulatory domain with respect to indecency remains restricted to the public airwaves, notably VHF and UHF television and AM/FM radio.
On June 15, 2006, President George W. Bush signed into law the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act of 2005 sponsored by Senator Sam Brownback, a former broadcaster himself, and endorsed by Congressman Fred Upton of Michigan who authored a similar bill in the United States House of Representatives. The new law stiffens the penalties for each violation of the Act. The Federal Communications Commission will be able to impose fines in the amount of $325,000 for each violation by each station, which violates decency standards. The legislation raises the fine by a tenfold increase.
FCC commissioners since inception in 1934The FCC is directed by five Commissioners appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate for 5-year terms, except when filling an unexpired term. The President designates one of the Commissioners to serve as Chairperson. Only three Commissioners may be members of the same political party. None of them can have a financial interest in any Commission-related business.
Current commissionersChairman Kevin Martin (R-NC), Commissioner Michael Copps (D-WI), Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein (D-SD), Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate (R-TN), Commissioner Robert M. McDowell (R-VA). Three of them are Republicans and two are Democrats. All are appointed by the President.
Past commissionersA complete list of commissioners is available on the FCC website. Notable commissioners have included:
- Eugene O. Sykes (R-MS)
- Paul A. Walker (D-OK)
- Anning S. Prall (D-NY)
- Frank McNinch (D-NC)
- James Lawrence Fly (D-TX)
- Paul A. Porter (D-KY)
- Charles R. Denny (D-DC)
- Rosel H. Hyde (R-ID)
- Wayne Coy (D-IN)
- John C. Doerfer (R-WI)
- Robert E. Lee (R-IL)
- George McConnaughey (R-OH)
- Frederick W. Ford (R-WV)
- Newton N. Minow (D-IL) 1961-
- Dean Burch (R-AZ) 1969-1974
- Richard E. Wiley (R-IL) 1974-1977
- Charles Ferris (D-MA) 1977-1981
- Mark Fowler (R-Canada) 1981-1989 Eliminated fairness doctrine http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairness_doctrine
- Alfred Sikes (R-MO) 1989-1993
- James H. Quello(D-MI) 1993-1993
- Reed E. Hundt (D-CA) 1993-1997
- William E. Kennard (D-CA) 1997-2001
- Michael Powell (R-VA) 2001-2005
As to radio and television broadcasting, the Federal Communications Commission has one major regulatory weapon, revoking licenses, but short of that has limited leverage. (see FCC MB Docket 04-232). Sanctions run a report-basis system. Additionally, broadcast licenses are supposed to be renewed if the station meets the "public interest, convenience, or necessity." The Federal Communications Commission rarely checks except for some obvious and outstanding reason; burden of proof would be on the complainant. Fewer than 1% of station renewals are not immediately granted, and only a small fraction of those are ultimately denied.
The Federal Communications Commission also licenses amateur radio operators and stations, and does use its power to fine amateur radio operators who flagrantly violate its rules. It also licenses commercial operators who operate and repair certain radiotelephone, television, radar, and Morse code radio stations. In recent years it has also licensed people who maintain or operate GMDSS stations. While the FCC maintains control of the written and Morse testing standards, it no longer administers the exams, having delegated that function to private organizations.
Similar authority for regulation of U.S. government radio communications is vested in the President who has delegated it to National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).
Source: from Federal Standard 1037C
See also: frequency assignment, open spectrum, Ofcom (British equivalent), Mercedes divide, FCC MB Docket 04-232
FCC Part 15
FCC Part 2
FCC part 18
FCC Part 22
FCC Part 74
FCC Part 95
FCC Part 68 FCC Part 73
Spectrum auctionsBeginning in 1994, commercial spectrum has been allocated via competitive auctions rather than the previous method of "best public use." This was a cumbersome bureaucratic process in which competitors attempted to show that they were most capable of making best public use of the license they wished to obtain. The structure and licenses available in each auction are determined by vote of the Commission, with the licenses awarded to the highest bidders. Auctions are usually conducted on a simultaneous multiple-round basis, with all offered licenses being auctioned at the same time. Auctions proceed in bidding rounds of decreasing duration until no more bids are received. Revenues are deposited in the US Treasury to be spent by Congress.
The FCC has been criticized for awarding a digital TV (DTV) channel to each holder of an analog TV station license without an auction, as well as trading auctionable spectrum to Nextel to resolve public safety interference problems. Nonetheless, in 2009, all analog terrestrial broadcast licenses in the U.S. will be terminated, with terrestrial television subsequently available only from the digital channels.
FCC Part 15 FCC Part 2 FCC part 18 FCC Part 22 FCC Part 74 FCC Part 95 FCC Part 68 FCC Part 73
CriticismsThe FCC has been criticized on many fronts, for existing at all or being too restrictive and too permissive in its regulation. The regulatory body was originally formed to allot segments of the radio spectrum which were deemed scarce. Critics argue that today, the allotment of frequency band segments to specific uses hinders and prevents new spectrum uses for innovative technologies. Regulatory changes can have a dramatic effect on industries. For example, the requirement for televisions to be digital will make millions of analog sets obsolete overnight.
In the actions taken against broadcasters, critics charge that the FCC violates the First Amendment guarantee of Freedom of Speech, both directly by censorship and enforcement action sometimes alleged to be politically motivated, and indirectly by the general intimidation that FCC action allegedly creates, particularly with the U.S. Congress considering increasing fines exponentially.
The FCC has considered requiring all broadcasters to retain copies of all broadcasts for up to three months (FCC MB Docket 04-232). Critics charge that this action would wipe out smaller broadcasters because of the enormous expense of having to purchase new equipment with the necessary features for content storage and the need for facilities to store content.
Low-power broadcasting has also been a source of contention, as the FCC has set the power limits very low, while allegedly making it nearly impossible for anyone except large corporations or large nonprofit organizations to obtain a license. Although Stephen Dunifer won a case versus the FCC, few others have successfully argued against the Commission.
Another critique is that the Commission has historically been dominated by lawyers, often from the telecommunications industry, due to the FCC's direct effects on commerce and public policy. This is in stark contrast to other technically-focused government agencies, such as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which is often populated by engineers and physicists.
The FCC is also often criticized by amateur Radio operators for rule changes affecting the Amateur Radio Service, or for its perceived lack of enforcement of violations within the service and in general.
On the issue of broadcast indecency, the FCC has taken heat from conservatives and family-oriented groups for not sufficiently censoring and restricting sexually explicit and violent material to which the groups believe children should not be exposed (a Family Viewing Hour was instituted in the 1970s and then discontinued).
While the FCC, under much criticism, has been tightening its control and censorship of broadcast television, the FCC does not have general authority to censor the internet, allowing broadcasters to use the internet as a source for their un-edited creative expression. In December 2006, NBC and Saturday Night Live posted an uncensored video on the NBC website and YouTube under the headings “Special Treat in a Box” or “Special Christmas Box”, otherwise known by its uncensored name, "Dick in a Box". The censored version of the video played on NBC's Saturday Night Live, and was bleeped (censored) sixteen times. Lorne Michaels, the creator and executive producer of Saturday Night Live, predicted that other shows and networks, time and money permitting, would surely follow NBC’s lead in making available material that was deemed not ready for prime time, or even late night.
The NBC show Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip had a story line where the FCC was fining the fictional NBS network an absurd amount of money for an obscenity said by a U.S. Marine during a live news broadcast in Afghanistan. They badmouth the FCC for being upset for a real life reaction of a near death incident in wartime being accidentally picked up in a required News broadcast. (The FCC requires that Educational programming be provided for free by networks in exchange for the right to broadcast over the airwaves.) The problem becomes worse when they give them the option of losing the fee in exchange for a five second delay of live news feeds.
2003 study of commercial radio concentrationIn 2003, the FCC Media Bureau produced a draft report analyzing the impact of deregulation in the radio industry. The report stated that from March 1996 through March 2003, the number of commercial radio stations on the air rose 5.9 percent while the number of station owners fell 35 percent. The concentration of ownership followed a 1996 rewrite of telecommunications law that eliminated a 40-station national ownership cap.
The report was never made public, nor have any similar analyses followed, despite the fact that radio industry reports were released in 1998, 2001 and 2002. In September 2006, Senator Barbara Boxer, who had received a copy of the report, released it.
2004 study of television media concentrationIn 2004, the FCC ordered its staff to destroy all copies of a draft study by Keith Brown and Peter Alexander, two economists in the FCC's Media Bureau. The two had analyzed a database of 4,078 individual news stories broadcast in 1998, showed local ownership of television stations adds almost five and one-half minutes of total news to broadcasts and more than three minutes of "on-location" news.
The conclusion of the study was at odds with FCC arguments made when it voted in 2003 to increase the number of television stations a company could own in a single market. (In June 2004, a federal appeals court rejected the agency's reasoning on most of the rules and ordered it to try again.)
In September 2006, Senator Barbara Boxer, who had received a copy of the report "indirectly from someone within the FCC who believed the information should be made public," wrote a letter to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, asked whether any other commissioners "past or present" knew of the report's existence and why it was never made public. She also asked whether it was "shelved because the outcome was not to the liking of some of the commissioners and/or any outside powerful interests?" Boxer's office said if she does not receive adequate answers to her questions, she will push for an investigation by the FCC inspector general.
Action by FCC ChairmanIn a letter in response to Senator Boxer, FCC Chairman Martin said "I want to assure you that I too am concerned about what happened to these two draft reports." The letter also said "I have asked the inspector general of the FCC to conduct an investigation into what happened to these draft documents and will cooperate fully with him." Martin added that he was not chairman at the time the reports were drafted, and that neither he nor his staff had seen them.
NSA wiretappingWhen it emerged in 2006 that AT&T, BellSouth and Verizon may have broken U.S. laws by aiding the National Security Agency in possible illegal wiretapping of its customers, Congressional representatives called for an FCC investigation into whether or not those companies broke the law. The FCC declined to investigate, however, claiming that it could not investigate due to the classified nature of the program — a move that provoked the criticism of members of Congress.
“Today the watchdog agency that oversees the country’s telecommunications industry refused to investigate the nation’s largest phone companies’ reported disclosure of phone records to the NSA," said Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) in response to the decision. "The FCC, which oversees the protection of consumer privacy under the Communications Act of 1934, has taken a pass at investigating what is estimated to be the nation’s largest violation of consumer privacy ever to occur. If the oversight body that monitors our nation’s communications is stepping aside then Congress must step in.”http://markey.house.gov/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=1610&Itemid=125
Copyright issueThe character "Broadband" (FCC Kids Zone) looks like Doraemon, a popular manga character in Japan. Doraemon was created for print in magazines in 1969, which makes Doraemon predate the FCC's character. According to Japanese news media, both Shogakukan (copyright manager) and Fujiko-production (owner of the copyright) have warned the FCC over the alleged copyright infringement, but so far there has been no answer.
DiversityWith the major demographic shifts occurring in the country in terms of the racial-ethnic composition of the population, where 9 of the 10 largest cities, for example, now have "majority minority" populations, the FCC has also been criticized for ignoring the issue of decreasing racial-ethnic diversity of the media. This includes charges that the FCC has been watering down the limited affirmative action regulations it had on the books, including no longer requiring stations to make public their data on their minority staffing and hiring. In the second half of 2006, groups such as the National Hispanic Media Coalition, the National Latino Media Council, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the National Institute for Latino Policy, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and others held town hall meetings in California, New York and Texas on media diversity as its affects Latinos and other communities of color. They documented widespread and deeply-felt community concerns about the negative effects of media concentration and consolidation on racial-ethnic diversity in staffing and programming. See El Diario La Prensas editorial on media diversity. At these Latino town hall meetings, the issue of the FCC's lax monitoring of obscene and pornographic material in Spanish-language radio and the lack of racial and national-origin diversity among Latino staff in Spanish-language television were other major themes.
FCC broadcasting tower databaseThe FCC database of broadcasting towers http://wireless2.fcc.gov/UlsApp/AsrSearch/asrRegistrationSearch.jsp provides information about the height and year built of broadcasting towers in the USA. It does not contain information about the structural types of towers or about the height of towers used for non-broadcasting purposes like NDBs, LORAN-C transmission towers or VLF transmission facilities of the US Navy, or about towers not used for transmission like the BREN-Tower.
- FCC website
- Antenna Geocode Locator
- Enforcement Policies Regarding Broadcast Indecency
- FCC Rules(CFR Title 47) On-Line at GPO
- The FCC Record online at the UNT Libraries Digital Collections
- New Wave: The case for killing the FCC and selling off spectrum By Jack Shafer, 17 January 2007
- Federal Communications Commission Meeting Notices and Rule Changes from The Federal Register RSS Feed
- Cybertelecom :: FCC and the Internet
- FCC Daily Digest provided as an RSS feed
FCC in Danish: Federal Communications Commission
FCC in German: Federal Communications Commission
FCC in Spanish: Federal Communications Commission
FCC in Esperanto: Federacia Komisiono pri Komunikado
FCC in French: Federal Communications Commission
FCC in Korean: 연방 통신 위원회
FCC in Italian: Federal Communications Commission
FCC in Dutch: Federal Communications Commission
FCC in Japanese: 連邦通信委員会
FCC in Polish: Federalna Komisja Łączności
FCC in Portuguese: Federal Communications Commission
FCC in Russian: Федеральное агентство по связи (США)
FCC in Serbian: Савезна комисија за комуникације
FCC in Finnish: Federal Communications Commission
FCC in Swedish: Federal Communications Commission
FCC in Chinese: 美国联邦通信委员会