The Us Federal Communications Commission Protecting

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The (Us) Federal Communications Commission : Protecting The Public Interest Essay, Research Paper The main purpose for the existence of the Federal Communications Commission s licensing system is to protect the public interest. The licensing of television and radio stations ensures that the electromagnetic broadcast spectrum, which is a scarce resource, is properly distributed to those that can best operate the facilities while providing programming that is of interest to all. The application of a broadcast license involves many steps and it varies for FM and AM radio stations. The Mass Media Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission is responsible for regulating the television and radio stations in the United States. The Bureau issues broadcast licenses specifying the

community of license, the channel and operating power of the station. The conditions of the license ensure that the broadcast will be picked up without interference. If problems arise, the Bureau investigates and resolves the problems. The licensing of radio stations began with the Radio Act of 1927 in which the Federal Radio Commission (FRC) was established based on requests from the industry itself. This act along with the Communications act of 1934 allowed the commission to create and enforce standards for the use of the public airwaves. While the commission does not have power over the entire radio spectrum granted by International treaty to the United States, as half the available frequencies have been designated for government use, the commission does control all commercial

and private requests. Because the radio spectrum is not large enough to accommodate everyone who might want to use it, an application and licensing system has been established. This standard of licensing does not use a lottery or auction to the highest bidder, but instead grants licenses based on the “best qualified to serve the public convenience, interest, or necessity.” (FCC – What it does, page 379) Such licenses are renewed every seven years based on compliance with the regulations set forth by the commission as well as the station s continuing ability to serve the public good. The allocation of frequencies varies between FM (Frequency Modulation) and AM (Amplitude Modulation) stations. AM stations are distributed on a “demand” or “first come, first served”

basis. The demand system allows market style distribution in cities that can support more frequencies because of greater population. The large population centers draw the largest number of applicants because they are able to support a large diversity of stations and programming. FM stations are distributed similarly to television in that communities are assigned certain frequencies for use today or in the future. This protects the smaller communities that might not be able to operate stations today and might be unable to receive one using the demand system which does not adequately plan for future growth. There is a table of allocations for each city that can only be changed using formal rule-making proceedings. There are certain requirements that an applicant must meet before

being considered for a license. “Section 310 of the communications act mandates that a license may not be held by a non-citizen, a foreign government, a foreign corporation, or any corporation of which any officer or director is an alien or of which more than one fifth of the capital stock is owned by non-citizens.” (FCC – What It does, page 389) Such requirements ensure that the electromagnetic is not being distributed to foreign interests that might use the frequencies in a manner that does not benefit the public interest of the citizens of this country. The applicant must be of good moral character and there can be no questions regarding the honesty of the applicant either in other business dealings or in the application itself. This provision of the application process