Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
The Federal Communications Commission, commonly called the FCC, is an agency of the United States government that controls communications between individuals within the boundaries of the United States. They have no international authority, at least not yet. The agency was created in 1934 during the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Administration during the time that is referenced as the golden age of radio. For libertarians and free-market thinkers, the FCC is merely one more layer of illegal control that contravenes the US Constitution. It is increasingly being used by the powers-that-be as a weapon to attack the Internet Reformation.
The Federal Communications Commission is comprised of five members, with only three being allowed from one particular political party. They are appointed by the U.S. President for five year terms. Normally, the balance of political power on the commission is in favor of the political party who holds the White House. The FCC also has a chairman among the five member commissioners. This rank is also appointed by the President of the United States.
The commission is comprised of 17 bureaus that review various communication-related activities, with four regional offices. They are headquartered in Washington, D.C., maintaining a laboratory in Maryland. The various bureaus also include an independent court system, the Office of Administrative Law Judges (OALJ), which reviews all legal issues concerning the FCC. The OALJ will be instrumental in determining nationwide Internet applications. The remaining bureaus are assigned responsibilities in specific areas of operation.
The mission of the agency is supposedly to promote competition in the media industry, but has received considerable criticism in the recent past for increasing the number of communication stations that can be owned by one company in a given market. One of the initial problems that the commission faced in its early stages was spacing stations to cover the entire country equitably and create as little interference as possible. Satellite technology has lowered that priority.
Also included in the mission statement of the FCC is the current priority of an open Internet, a highly contested contemporary move that will ultimately determine who will actually be in charge of the revolutionizing ability. The innovation of wireless communication is also a priority with the introduction of telephone capacity to access the Internet. It is one of the few U.S. government agencies to have shown willingness to relinquish some of its sweeping power in favor of industry, but currently still assessing the restraints necessary on the populace in terms of communication ability.
The Federal Communications Commission is also being integrated into the Department of Homeland Security, as intellectual property owners and communications companies are lobbying Congress to make the internet a two-tiered system of pay walls and reduced speeds to maximize industry profitability. They have recently blocked over 80 websites because of copyright infringement, though only a few website owners were incarcerated. This forces the website owners to face criminal charges instead of civil litigation, as Congress has enacted federal legislation in favor of corporations and individual intellectual property rights owners.
During both Bush Administrations the agency also prioritized the standards of decency in television and radio communications, increasing the station and individual fines to much higher levels in order to stop questionable programming. The commission came short of banning indecent material for cable companies, as the federal court system determined that the commission's power only extended to free over-the-air operations. Cable and satellite companies, along with satellite radio, became exempt with this ruling because they are fee-for-service.
The market-oriented stance began during Ronald Reagan's Administration, as the commission eliminated policy that was considered outdated. The FCC also determined in 1984 that AT & T was operating a monopoly and that smaller local phone companies should have access to the wired network for all industry purposes, including long distance service. The commission will, likewise, be implementing the proposed "Internet kill switch" which currently is being discussed in Congress. The legislation would give the U.S. President the sole power to determine what can be accessed in the U.S. via the international communication grid, including international Internet television newscasts – something all freedom lovers should deplore.