Federal Communications Commission

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Federal Communications Commission
Chair:Tom Wheeler
Year created:1934
Official website:Office website
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is a United States executive agency formed in 1934 which "regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories."[1] The current chair of the commission is Tom Wheeler, who was confirmed to the post on October 29, 2013.[2] The FCC is an independent agency overseen by the United States Congress.[1]


Founded in 1934 by the Communications Act, the FCC took over radio licensing from the Federal Radio Commission. In 1940 the commission released a report that led to the breakup of the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), eventually leading to the formation of the American Broadcasting Company (ABC). The Report on Chain Broadcasting also placed restrictions on what the networks could demand from local affiliate stations in regard to scheduling programming. When television became a new medium in the 1940s, the FCC took on the role of licensing those stations as well. The FCC also makes rulings on matters of "indecency" in television and radio programming. In 2009, the FCC began to forward the idea of "net neutrality" rules aimed at ensuring equal treatment of all internet users. The rules then faced a series of legal challenges.[3]



According to its official website, the FCC's mission statement is as follows:

The Federal Communications Commission regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.[4]

—FCC.gov, [1]


The current chair of the FCC is Tom Wheeler.[2] The other commissioners are Mignon Clyburn, Jessica Rosenworcel, Ajit Pai and Michael O'Rielly.[5]


Obama administration

Open Internet

On May 15, 2014, the FCC voted 3-2, along party lines, to pass new rules regarding net neutrality. The idea behind net neutrality is that internet service providers treat all content equally. The new rules proposed a "fast lane" be offered to larger content managers for a fee to ensure that internet providers do not purposefully slow down the data coming from the high bandwidth content managers like Google, Facebook or Netflix. FCC Commissioner Tom Wheeler defended the new rules, stating, "The potential for there to be some kind of a fast lane available to only a few has many people concerned. Personally, I don't like the idea that the Internet could be divided into haves and have nots, and I will work to see that that does not happen. In this item we specifically ask whether and how to prevent the kind of paid prioritization that could result in fast lanes."[6]

Opponents of the new rule claim they will have the opposite effect of neutrality, stifling competition for new companies. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) claimed, "The very essence of net neutrality is that a better idea or service should be allowed to succeed on its merits and not have to pay tolls to reach potential customers. Rules allowing pay-to-play deals would also harm consumers, who could no longer be confident that the Internet speeds they pay for are sufficient to access the services they want."[6]

The rules were opened to public comment for a period of four months, at which point the FCC will finalize the rules.[6]

Recent news

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See also

External links