The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) is the independent U.S. government agency in charge of regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable. The FCC's jurisdiction encompasses all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and all U.S. possessions.
Created by the Communications Act of 1934 as the successor to the FRC (Federal Radio Commission), the FCC reports directly to Congress. The agency is led by five commissioners, each of whom is appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate for five-year terms (except when appointed to complete an unexpired term). The president chooses one of the commissioners to serve as the chairperson. No more than three commissioners may come from the same political party. No commissioner is permitted of to have a financial stake in any FCC-regulated enterprise.
The FCC is organized into seven Bureaus and 10 Offices:
In its role as the U.S.'s communications regulator, the FCC is responsible for creating rules, orders and authorizations that reflect the provisions of the Communications Act of 1934, as well as the more recent Telecommunications Act of 1996. FCC responsibilities include licensing radio and television stations, monitoring and evaluating broadcast "decency," and certifying equipment for phone-network compatibility and radio- interference protection. The FCC does not test equipment for safety or performance.
The FCC enforces its mandates through fines, as well as license suspension, revocation and nonrenewal. The agency operates 3 regional offices, 16 district offices and 9 resident-agent offices across the U.S. and its territories. These sites are charged with executing on-scene investigations, inspections and audits. Other FCC responsibilities include responding to life-safety issues, investigating and resolving interference complaints, and investigating violations in all communications services.
Since 1994, the FCC has by law conducted auctions of licenses for specific parts of the electromagnetic spectrum . These auctions are open to any eligible company or individual that submits an application and an up-front payment and is found to be a qualified bidder by the FCC.
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