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. An independent U.S. government agency overseen by Congress, the commission is the United States' primary authority for communications law, regulation and technological innovation. In its work facing economic opportunities and challenges associated with rapidly evolving advances in global communications, the agency capitalizes on its competencies in:
- Promoting competition, innovation and investment in broadband services and facilities
- Supporting the nation's economy by ensuring an appropriate competitive framework for the unfolding of the communications revolution
- Encouraging the highest and best use of spectrum domestically and internationally
- Revising media regulations so that new technologies flourish alongside diversity and localism
- Providing leadership in strengthening the defense of the nation's communications infrastructure
The agency is directed by five commissioners who are appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The president also selects one of the commissioners to serve as chairman. Only three commissioners can be of the same political party at any given time and none can have a financial interest in any commission-related business. All commissioners, including the chairman, have five-year terms, except when filling an unexpired term.
The commission is organized into bureaus and offices, based on function (see also Organizational Charts of the FCC). Bureau and office staff members regularly share expertise to cooperatively fulfill responsibilities such as:
- Developing and implementing regulatory programs
- Processing applications for licenses and other filings
- Encouraging the development of innovative services
- Conducting investigations and analyzing complaints
- Public safety and homeland security
- Consumer information and education
Rules and Rulemakings
The FCC's rules and regulations are in Title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), which are published and maintained by the Government Printing Office. Title 47 Rules & Regulations are also available on the web in a searchable format.
Most FCC rules are adopted by a process known as "notice and comment" rulemaking. Under that process, the FCC gives the public notice that it is considering adopting or modifying rules on a particular subject and seeks the public's comment. The Commission considers the comments received in developing final rules. For more information, check out our online summary of the Rulemaking Process at the FCC.
In 1972 Congress passed the Federal Advisory Committee Act to ensure that advice by advisory committees is objective and accessible to the public. The Act put in place a process for establishing, operating, overseeing, and terminating these committees that provide valuable input from consumer groups, industry stakeholders, public safety officials and other interested parties.