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Acronym: Federal Communications Commission

Home Page: http://www.fcc.gov

The Federal Communications Commission is an independent United States government agency, directly responsible to Congress. The FCC was established by the Communications Act of 1934 and is charged with regulating interstate and international broadcast communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable.

In 2004 the Commission proposed opening the un-used broadcast television frequencies. Because the airwaves and television play such a huge part in democratic activity, it is the job of a communications commission to ensure this is a free and open to public utility and not a proprietary service. Unfortunately, the FCC seems intent on allowing huge media companies to control all of the news and entertainment channels.

Chairman Michael Powell is often quoted as referring to the big media companies as his “clients” and is working to help them by consolidating their ownership. In fact, he should be referring to the American people as “his clients” and doing something positive to prevent this type of power-grab.

Clear Channel

Very recently, the FCC’s acceptance of Clear Channel Communications, formerly SFX, who owns over 1,000 radio stations around the USA, even more billboards, and handles concerts. This is considered by most people to be a monopoly and a growing group are Anti-Clear Channel.

The FCC’s widely-critisized efforts at deregulation for Clear Channel and Media ownership rules contrast with their widely heralded efforts to create a National Do-Not-Call List.

Broadcast Flag

In an effort to protect copyright the Commission is supporting the broadcast flag system. According to this law all digital television broadcasts must be accompanied by measures which block downside copying, with special purpose devices.

Problems include that the flagging method may block content that is already in the public domain, and block people from transfering content to portable devices and other fair usage. The Center for Democracy and Technology has excellent detailed coverage of the broadcast flag, and the Digital Consumer group have a good Stop the Broadcast Flag page. The effective date for this legislation is 1 July 2005.

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