communications law: an overview
Communications law is concerned with the regulation of radio and TV broadcasting to ensure satisfactory service and to prevent chaos. The federal government has largely governed broadcasting because by its nature broadcasting transcends state boundaries.
Congress created and delegated its authority in communications to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Under the Communications Act of 1934, the FCC was given power to regulate and control "radio communications." Such communications were held to include the transmission by radio of writing, signs, signals, pictures,and sounds of all kinds. Additional powers Congress has delegated to the FCC include the power (under 47 U.S.C. § 303) to set forth standards for transmitting color television.
Extensive federal regulation has left state with little if any role in governing broadcast communications. For example, states cannot regulate the content of the programs broadcast (even if the television station is situated within the state) and cannot require that motion pictures broadcast over the station be submitted to a state board of censors for approval.
menu of sources
U.S. Constitution and Federal Statutes
Federal Agency Regulations
- Code of Federal Regulations: 47 C.F.R. - Telecommunication
Federal Judicial Decisions
- U.S. Supreme Court:
- U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals: Recent Decisions on Communications
State Judicial Decisions
- N.Y. Court of Appeals:
- Appellate Decisions from Other States
Conventions and Treaties
- International Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations (1961)
- Performances & Phonograms Treaty (World Intellectual Property Organization 1996)
Key Internet Sources
- Federal Agency:
- Congressional Committees
Useful Offnet (or Subscription- $) Sources
- Good Starting Point in Print: Ginsburg, Botein, and Director's Regulation of the Electronic Mass Media: Law and Policy for Radio, Television, Cable and the New Video Technologies, West Group Publishing, 3rd ed. (1998)