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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Federal Communications Commission

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent agency of the United States government, created by Congressional statute (see 47 U.S.C. § 151 and 47 U.S.C. § 154), and with the majority of its commissioners appointed by the current President. The FCC works towards six goals in the areas of broadband, competition, the spectrum, the media, public safety and homeland security. The Commission is also in the process of modernizing itself.

The FCC took over wire communication regulation from the Interstate Commerce Commission. The FCC's mandated jurisdiction covers the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. possessions. However, the FCC also provides varied degrees of cooperation, oversight, and leadership for similar communications bodies in other countries of North America. The FCC has an estimated 2011 budget of US$335.8 million which is entirely funded by regulatory fees, and has a proposed budget of $354.2 million for 2012, which will also be fully derived from regulatory fees. It has 1,898 federal employees.

As specified in section one of the Communications Act of 1934 and as amended by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (amendment to 47 U.S.C. §151) it is the FCC's mission to "make available so far as possible, to all the people of the United States, without discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex, rapid, efficient, Nation-wide, and world-wide wire and radio communication services with adequate facilities at reasonable charges."[sic] The Act furthermore provides that the FCC was created "for the purpose of the national defense" and "for the purpose of promoting safety of life and property through the use of wire and radio communications.
Consistent with the objectives of the Act as well as the 1993 Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA), the FCC has identified six goals in its 2006-2011 Strategic Plan. These are:
Broadband: "All Americans should have affordable access to robust and reliable broadband products and services. Regulatory policies must promote technological neutrality, competition, investment, and innovation to ensure that broadband service providers have sufficient incentives to develop and offer such products and services."
Competition: "Competition in the provision of communication services, both domestically and overseas, supports the Nation's economy. The competitive framework for communications services should foster innovation and offer consumers reliable, meaningful choice in affordable services."
Spectrum: "Efficient and effective use of non-federal spectrum domestically and internationally promotes the growth and rapid development of innovative and efficient communication technologies and services."

Media: "The Nation's media regulations must promote competition and diversity and facilitate the transition to digital modes of delivery."
Public Safety and Homeland Security: "Communications during emergencies and crisis must be available for public safety, health, defense, and emergency personnel, as well as all consumers in need. The Nation's critical communications infrastructure must be reliable, interoperable, redundant, and rapidly restorable."
Modernize the FCC: "The Commission shall strive to be highly productive, adaptive, and innovative organization that maximizes the benefits to stakeholders, staff, and management from effective systems, processes, resources, and organizational culture."


The FCC is directed by five commissioners appointed by the U.S. president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate for five-year terms, except when filling an unexpired term. The president designates one of the commissioners to serve as chairman. Only three commissioners may be members of the same political party. None of them may have a financial interest in any FCC-related business.

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