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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.


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Federal Material

U.S. Constitution and Federal Statutes

Federal Agency Regulations

  • Code of Federal Regulations: 47 C.F.R. - Telecommunication

Federal Judicial Decisions

State Material

State Statutes

State Judicial Decisions

International Material

Conventions and Treaties

Other References

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