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Regulating Television and Radio Broadcasting

The Federal Communications Commission (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.

Goals of the FCC

The FCC has two primary concerns. The first is to provide stability to the communications marketplace while facilitating the innovation needed for the future. The second aim of the FCC is to ensure that television and radio-programming content is not violative of U.S. federal law standards.

Standards for Television and Radio Broadcasting Content

Although the FCC has been granted broad power in regulating the communications industry, Title III of the Communications Act of 1934 prohibits the FCC from censoring television or radio broadcasts unless they are depicting or uttering obscene or indecent language over a broadcast station.

The Commission's enforcement actions regarding broadcasts of obscene and/or indecent material are based on documented complaints of indecent or obscene broadcasting received from the public. The Commission's staff reviews each complaint to determine whether a violation of the obscenity or indecency prohibition has occurred.

How Do I Make a Complaint to the FCC?

If you would like to make an FCC complaint regarding obscene or indecent material, the FCC requests the following information:

  • Information regarding the details of what was actually said (or depicted) during the allegedly indecent or obscene broadcast
  • The date and time of the broadcast
  • The call sign of the station involved

Do I Need a Television and Radio Broadcasting Attorney?

If you have a problem with television or radio programming content, you should contact the FCC and notify them of your concerns. For all other legal matters, you should speak to an experienced entertainment lawyer. A lawyer with experience handling television and radio broadcasting issues will know how to deal with your dispute or legal question.

Photo of page author Peter Clarke

, LegalMatch Content Manager

Last Modified: 06-24-2018 07:28 PM PDT

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