The Federal Communications Commission


Although the radio was invented long before many modern forms of regulation were created, it did not take long for the Federal Government to catch up to the fact that they needed some way to monitor and regulate the radio spectrum. As new technology continues to be created, the FCC is also tasked to find ways to manage and regulate that as well. Some new technologies that the FCC has been forced to regulate are broadband internet, satellite TV, satellite radio, and even HD radio.

The Federal Government has tasked The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as the organization responsible for monitoring and maintaining radio waves and transmissions. Although it is an independent organization, the FCC is given power by Congressional Statute. The FCC maintains six strategic strategies in the areas of broadband (internet and cable), competition (preventing monopolies), the spectrum, the media, public safety and homeland security, and modernization.

The FCC was created in 1934 to replace the Federal Radio Commission (FRC) and is given the responsibility of monitoring and protecting all of the non-governmental portions of the radio spectrum in the United States. This also includes satellite radio, satellite TV, cable TV, and any other wired or wireless for of communication such as telephone and internet. Part of this responsibility is to make sure that government stations and transmissions are left alone and free from interruption via blocking and jamming technologies.

The FCC has previously been involved in the de-regulation of the telephone industry (1966) as well as the freeze of TV channels in 1948 that lasted 4 years. The FCC's main task is to reject licenses and to leverage fines on those that are either not qualified or broadcast material that is against FCC regulation. You might remember the fines for the Janet Jackson Super Bowl Performance or Howard Stern being fined repeatedly for his conduct, forcing him to move to satellite radio. The FCC places stricter guidelines for free radio and TV since there is no way to monitor who has access to these frequencies, however paid stations are able to operate under different guidelines. The FCC has recently come under a lot of pressure because the radio ownership, while being de-regulated, has actually started to transfer into far fewer hands than it ever has before.

There also is a lot of talk about the FCC forcing political balance on the airwaves by maintaining regulation for left and right wing talk radio. This came as a result of the recent election where Democrats felt that there were too many Republican radio stations polluting the airwaves. Although this didn't gain much traction at the time, the topic has been approached more than once since that time.

Overall, the FCC has been under strict pressure to de-regulate industries while also maintaining order in the process. Several amateur radio and "free radio" pioneers have complained about the FCC keeping the radio waves from the people, something worth getting an attorney over and filing suit. This is sure to continue as technology makes it easier for home studios to pop up and for people to jam other forms of technology and replace it with their own.