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Who Regulates the Communications and Media Industry?

The Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) regulates the United States communication and media industry. The FCC was established by the Communications Act of 1934 and is charged with regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable. The FCC's jurisdiction covers the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. possessions.

What Are the Goals of the FCC?

The following are FCC goals affecting the communications and media industry:

  • Promoting Competition - Support the Nation's economy by ensuring that there is a comprehensive and sound competitive framework for communications services. Such a framework should foster innovation and offer consumers meaningful choice in services. Such a pro-competitive framework should be promoted domestically and overseas.
  • Broadband - Establish regulatory policies that promote competition, innovation, and investment in broadband services and facilities while monitoring progress toward the deployment of broadband services in the United States and abroad.
  • Media - Revise media regulations so that media ownership rules promote competition and diversity in a comprehensive, legally sustainable manner and facilitate the mandated migration to digital modes of delivery.
  • Homeland Security - Provide leadership in evaluating and strengthening the Nation's communications infrastructure, in ensuring rapid restoration of that infrastructure in the event of disruption, and in ensuring that essential public health and safety personnel have effective communications services available to them in emergency situations.

What Is the Freedom of Information Act?

Congress enacted the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in 1966 to give the American public greater access to the Federal Government's records. Congress amended the FOIA statute several times since then. Most recently, the Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 1996 (E-FOIA) expanded the scope of the FOIA to encompass electronic records and require the creation of "electronic reading rooms" to make records more easily and widely available to the public.

What Type of Information Is Available upon a FOIA Request?

Under the FOIA and the FCC's implementing rules, you are allowed to obtain copies of FCC records unless the records contain information that is exempt under the FOIA from mandatory disclosure.

The following categories of information are exempt from the Freedom of Information Act:

  • Records classified national defense or foreign policy materials
  • Trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential
  • Inter- or intra-agency memoranda or letters which would not be available to a party in litigation with the agency
  • Personnel, medical and similar files, disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy
  • Records compiled for law enforcement purposes

Do I Need a Communication and Media Attorney?

If you have a dispute with an entity in the communications and media industry you should contact the FCC and file a formal complaint. If the FCC is unable to resolve your dispute, you should consult with an attorney experienced in communications and the media.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 12-17-2013 11:47 AM PST

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