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Federal Communications Commission



The FCC was formed by the Communications Act of 1934 to replace the radio regulation functions of the Federal Radio Commission. The FCC took over wire communication regulation from the Interstate Commerce Commission. The FCC's mandated jurisdiction covers the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the territories of the United States. The FCC also provides varied degrees of cooperation, oversight, and leadership for similar communications bodies in other countries of North America. The FCC is funded entirely by regulatory fees. It has an estimated fiscal-2016 budget of US $388 million. It has 1,688 federal employees, made up of 50% males and 50% females as of December, 2017.

The FCC leases space in the Portals building in southwest Washington, D.C. Construction of the Portals building was scheduled to begin on March 1, 1996. In January 1996 the General Services Administration signed a lease with the building's owners, agreeing to let the FCC lease 450,000 square feet (42,000 m2) of space in Portals for 20 years, at a cost of $17.3 million per year in 1996 dollars. Prior to its current arrangement, the FCC had space in six buildings by 19th Street NW and M Street NW. The FCC first solicited bids for a new headquarters complex in 1989. In 1991 the GSA selected the Portals site. The FCC had wanted to move into a more expensive area along Pennsylvania Avenue.

In 1934, Congress passed the Communications Act, which abolished the Federal Radio Commission and transferred jurisdiction over radio licensing to a new Federal Communications Commission, including in it also the telecommunications jurisdiction previously handled by the Interstate Commerce Commission.

Title II of the Communications Act focused on telecommunications using many concepts borrowed from railroad legislation and Title III contained provisions very similar to the Radio Act of 1927.

Other FCC actions hurt the fledgling DuMont and ABC networks. American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T) forced television coaxial cable users to rent additional radio long lines, discriminating against DuMont, which had no radio network operation. DuMont and ABC protested AT&T's television policies to the FCC, which regulated AT&T's long-line charges, but the commission took no action. The result was that financially marginal DuMont was spending as much in long-line charge as CBS or NBC while using only about 10 to 15 percent of the time and mileage of either larger network.

The Sixth Report and Order also provided for the "intermixture" of VHF and UHF channels in most markets; UHF transmitters in the 1950s were not yet powerful enough, nor receivers sensitive enough (if they included UHF tuners at all - they were not formally required until the 1960s All-Channel Receiver Act), to make UHF viable against entrenched VHF stations. In markets where there were no VHF stations and UHF was the only TV service available, UHF survived. In other markets, which were too small to financially support a television station, too close to VHF outlets in nearby cities, or where UHF was forced to compete with more than one well-established VHF station, UHF had little chance for success.

In 1996, Congress enacted the Telecommunications Act of 1996, in the wake of the break-up of AT&T resulting from the U.S. Department of Justice's antitrust suit against AT&T. The 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.

The FCC first promulgated rules for cable television in 1965, with cable and satellite television now regulated by the FCC under Title VI of the Communications Act. Congress added Title VI in the Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984, and made substantial modifications to Title VI in the Cable Television and Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992. Further modifications to promote cross-modal competition (telephone, video, etc.) were made in the Telecommunications Act of 1996, leading to the current regulatory structure.

Then on June 15, 2006, President George W. Bush signed into law the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act of 2005 sponsored by then-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 that violates decency standards. The legislation raised the fine ten times over the previous maximum of $32,500 per violation.

The FCC regulates telecommunications services under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. Title II imposes common carrier regulation under which carriers offering their services to the general public must provide services to all customers and may not discriminate based on the identity of the customer or the content of the communication. This is similar to and adapted from regulation of transportation providers (railroad, airline, shipping, etc.) and some public utilities. Wireless carriers providing telecommunications services are also generally subject to Title II regulation except as exempted by the FCC.






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