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Reports

Series: International Comparative Study: Independent Regulatory Bodies in the Broadcasting and Telecommunication Sectors
[Part Ⅲ] Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of the United States
Regulations in the Internet Age

August 2010

Founded in 1934, the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, is the oldest independent regulatory agency in the world. With nearly 2,000 staff members, the organization regulates US broadcasting and telecommunications businesses across the board including terrestrial television and radio, telephone, satellite broadcasting and cable television. It has authority over a wide range of matters such as broadcasting licensing, rulemaking, and sanctioning, and serves as a model for independent regulatory bodies of other countries.

Although FCC is institutionally “independent” from the executive branch, since the US president appoints chairperson, it has been struggling to avoid direct influence from the administration. Besides, among three branches of government, Judicial Supremacy is established in the US. Therefore FCC’s decisions have always been subject to Judicial Review, and its policies and regulations have been rigorously inspected in court.

A new challenge faced by FCC is the issue regarding how the agency can involved in the Internet. In March 2010, FCC announced the National Broadband Plan that will be the linchpin to the US policy of spreading the Internet for the next decade. Congress and related industries are divided regarding the policy which will allow FCC, a regulatory body, actively engage in the Internet, which is supposed to be “free” media.

In this report the author examines the meaning of FCC’s “independence,” the reality of regulations, and regulatory organizations’ involvement in the Internet by presenting FCC’s organizational structure and background to its establishment as well as interviews with relevant people.

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