The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent government agency of the United States. It was established by the Communications Act of 1934. The FCC is responsible for regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable.
The FCC is directed by five Commissioners who are appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the Senate. These Commissioners serve for a five year term. The President designates one of the Commissioners to serve as the Chairperson of the FCC. At any given time, only three of the five Commissioners, may be members of the same political party. The Commissioners should have absolutely no financial interest in any of the businesses related to the Commission.
The Chairman, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of the FCC, is empowered to delegate management and administrative responsibilities to the Managing Director. The Commissioners supervise all FCC activities, and are responsible for delegating responsibilities to staff units and Bureaus.
The FCC staff is organized by its functions. At present, there are seven operating Bureaus and ten Staff Offices. Even though the Bureaus and Offices have their individual functions, they regularly join forces and share expertise in addressing FCC issues. Following is a list of the Bureaus and Offices along with their main responsibilities:
- Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB): Responsible for educating and informing consumers about telecommunications goods and services. CGB also constantly coordinates with industry and other federal, tribal, state and local governmental agencies for implementing telecommunications policy, and in serving public interest.
- Enforcement Bureau: Responsible for enforcing the provisions of the Communications Act as well as rules, orders and authorizations of the FCC.
- International Bureau: Responsible for representing the FCC in satellite and international matters.
- Media Bureau: Responsible for regulating AM, FM radio and television broadcast stations, cable television, and satellite services.
- Wireless Telecommunications Bureau: Responsible for keeping a watch over cellular and PCS phones, pagers and two-way radios. The Bureau also regulates the use of radio spectrum to fulfill communication needs of businesses, aircraft and ship operators, and individuals.
- Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau: Responsible for addressing public safety, homeland security, national security, emergency management and preparedness, disaster management, and other related issues.
- Wireline Competition Bureau: Responsible for implementing rules and policies concerning telephone companies that provide interstate as well as intrastate telecommunications services to the public using wire-based transmission facilities.
- Office of Administrative Law Judges: Responsible for conducting hearings ordered by the FCC, and issuing initial decisions.
- Office of Communications Business Opportunities: Responsible for providing advice to the FCC on issues and policies concerning opportunities for ownership by small, minority and women-owned communications businesses.
- Office of Engineering and Technology: Responsible for providing expert advice on technical and engineering issues to the FCC.
- Office of the General Counsel: Serves as the chief legal advisor to the FCC and its Bureaus and Offices.
- Office of Inspector General: Responsible for conducting and supervising audits and investigations relating to operations of the FCC.
- Office of Legislative Affairs: Serves as the FCC’s point of contact with the Congress.
- Office of the Managing Director: Functions as a Chief Operating Official, and is responsible for the administration and management of the FCC. The Managing Director works under the direction and supervision of the Chairman of the FCC.
- Office of Media Relations: Responsible for informing the news media of FCC decisions and serves as the FCC’s main point of contact with the media.
- Office of Strategic Planning & Policy Analysis: Responsible for developing strategic plans identifying policy objectives for the FCC. The office works along with the Chairman, Commissioners, Bureaus and Offices in order to achieve its objectives.
- Office of Work Place Diversity: Advises the FCC on all issues related to workforce diversity, recruitment and equal employment opportunities.