Federal Communications Commission (FCC)


The Federal Communications Commission is an independent agency of the United States government created by statute to regulate interstate communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable. The FCC works towards six goals in the areas of broadband, competition, the spectrum, the media, public safety and homeland security, and modernizing itself.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

What is ‘Federal Communications Commission – FCC’

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent U.S. government regulatory agency that oversees all interstate and international communications. The FCC maintains standards and consistency among ever-growing types of media and methods of communications while protecting the interests of both consumers and businesses. The agency is accountable to Congress.

Explaining ‘Federal Communications Commission – FCC’

The FCC is headed by a chairman, who is one of five commissioners appointed by the president. Each commissioner is confirmed by the Senate and serves for a five-year term. To prevent conflicts of interest, commissioners cannot have a financial interest in any business regulated by the FCC. Working for the commissioners are more than 1,500 employees divided into numerous bureaus and offices that focus on different aspects of the commission’s duties.


Tasked with enforcement of the Communications Act and FCC regulations, the commission’s enforcement bureau conducts investigations, levies fines and initiates administrative judgments against violators. FCC fines can tally as high as the tens of millions of dollars for some violations, which can affect the value of some companies. The FCC’s regulatory powers include the setting of manufacturing standards for communications equipment, decency standards in radio and television broadcasts, and ensuring competition. The commission includes an Office of Administrative Judges that hears disputes and issue decisions interpreting the agency’s regulations.


The commission’s rule-making procedures can have wide ranging effects on the competitive balance in communication’s markets. Mergers and acquisitions of communication companies require FCC approval, and while this approval process is designed to protect consumers and prevent monopolies, it occasionally creates uncertainty for companies and investors while FCC approval is under review. Additionally, some mergers or acquisitions do not receive approval, which can result in uncertainty for the companies involved.

Further Reading

  • The Telecommunications Act at three years: an economic evaluation of its implementation by the Federal Communications Commission – www.sciencedirect.com [PDF]
  • The curious absence of economic analysis at the Federal Communications Commission: An agency in search of a mission – ijoc.org [PDF]
  • Does ownership matter? Localism, content, and the Federal Communications Commission – www.tandfonline.com [PDF]
  • Children's television: The economics of exploitation. – eric.ed.gov [PDF]
  • Federal Communications Commission reverse incentive spectrum auction: outcomes and impact on the broadcast industry – www.tandfonline.com [PDF]
  • Theory, experiment and the federal communications commission spectrum auctions – www.sciencedirect.com [PDF]
  • The financial interest and syndication rules and changes in program diversity – www.tandfonline.com [PDF]
  • Concerns about the Disproportionate Use of Economic Research in the FCC'S Media Ownership Studies from 2002–2007 – www.tandfonline.com [PDF]