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FAQS - Radio

The FCC issues broadcast licenses specifying the community of license, the channel and operating power of the station. The conditions of the license ensure that the broadcast will be picked up without interference within a specified service area. Generally, the FCC does not govern the selection of programming that is broadcast. The main exceptions are: restrictions on indecent programming, limits on the number of commercials aired during children's programming, and rules involving candidates for public office.

Our most commonly asked questions about radio are:

How can I file a complaint about obscenity or indecency on the radio or television?
You may file a written complaint and mail it to:

Federal Communications Commission
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th St., SW
Washington, DC 20554


You can file a complaint on-line, using the FCC Complaint form 475B.

The Commission asks complainants to provide the following information: (1) the date and time of the alleged broadcast; (2) the call sign or the frequency of the station involved; and (3) the name of the program, the DJ personality, and the city and state; (4) information regarding the details of what was actually said (or depicted) during the alleged indecent or obscene broadcast. With respect to item (4), in making indecency determinations, context is key! The Commission staff must have sufficient information regarding what was actually said during the alleged broadcast, the meaning of what was said and the context in which it was stated. There is flexibility in how a complainant may provide this information. For example, the complainant may provide a significant excerpt of the program describing what was actually said (or depicted) or a full or partial tape or transcript of the material. In whatever form the complainant provides the information, it must be sufficiently detailed such that the Commission can determine the words and language actually used during the broadcast and the context of those words or language. More information about obscenity and indecency complaints.

How can I start my own radio station?
See the FCC’s guide on how to own a radio station.

What can I do about interference to my radio?
Just like with your television set, the source of the problem could be your home electronics equipment. It may not be adequately designed with circuitry or filtering to reject the unwanted signals of nearby transmitters. The FCC recommends that you contact the manufacturer and/or the store where the equipment was purchased to resolve the problem. More information on broadcast interference.

More consumer information on radio issues.

Reviewed: September 29, 2014

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