What is the FCC notice and comment process?
The FCC notice and comment process applies to any FCC rule that contains legally binding rights or obligations for the agency or the public. Under the Administrative Procedure Act, the FCC must provide notice to the public when it wants to create, modify, or repeal a rule. Members of the public can provide comments on the proposed action for the FCC to review. The agency might adjust the proposed action in response to the comments, abandon the proposed action, or proceed as planned.
When does the FCC issue a broadcast license?
The FCC will issue a broadcast license if it serves public convenience, interest, and necessity, and if the applicant meets certain additional requirements. These involve the citizenship status of the applicant, the moral character of the applicant, and the financial capacity of the applicant to operate the station. An applicant also must comply with FCC rules on equipment and hours of operation, among other things. In some cases, the FCC will hold a hearing before deciding whether to grant a license.
How does the FCC regulate broadcast content?
The FCC can regulate broadcast content if it is obscene, indecent, or profane. Obscene content may not be broadcast at any time, while indecent or profane content may be broadcast during certain hours when children are less likely to be watching. Violations of these rules may result in the loss of a license and other penalties. Complaints about other issues with broadcast content should be directed to the broadcast station.
Why can the FCC regulate broadcast stations more than cable operators?
The FCC can regulate broadcast stations more than cable operators because broadcast stations occupy part of the publicly owned spectrum. They receive exclusive licenses to use frequencies on the spectrum in exchange for complying with FCC rules. Cable operators do not work within this framework, since they provide their own hardware and charge monthly fees to subscribers.
How many channels does a cable operator need to provide for local broadcast stations?
If a cable operator has 12 or fewer channels, it must allocate three channels to local commercial broadcast stations and one channel to a local non-commercial educational broadcast station. Other cable operators must allocate one-third of their channels to local commercial broadcast stations. A cable operator with 13 to 36 channels must allocate one to three channels to local non-commercial educational broadcast stations, and a cable operator with more than 36 channels must carry any local non-commercial educational broadcast station upon request.
Do broadcast stations need to give political candidates equal time on air?
If a broadcast station allows a candidate to use its facilities for their campaign, the station must also grant an equal opportunity to each of the candidate’s opponents to use its facilities. Moreover, if a group supporting a candidate arranges for broadcast time, the station must allow groups supporting opposing candidates to arrange for similar time. On the other hand, a station does not need to allow equal time to ads or broadcasts supporting candidates in which the candidates do not appear.
What is the marketplace of ideas?
The marketplace of ideas describes a situation in which a diverse range of opinions compete for public attention. This concept is connected to the First Amendment of the Constitution and is often considered essential to a healthy democracy. Antitrust laws and other restrictions on media ownership concentration aim to protect the marketplace of ideas by preventing a handful of people or entities from controlling the media and projecting only their viewpoints.
What is net neutrality?
Net neutrality is the concept that internet service providers should not discriminate among types of data. In particular, they should not block or slow the transmission of data or provide advantages to certain websites. Net neutrality would allow all users to reach all websites with equal ease, promoting a diversity of viewpoints. The FCC issued net neutrality rules in 2015 and repealed them a few years later, but they may return in the near future.
What does a reporter shield law do?
A reporter shield law allows members of the media to gather and present news more effectively by excusing them from disclosing confidential sources or information. The shield may be absolute or qualified, and it may be waived or overcome in some cases. In most cases, information protected by a reporter shield law may be disclosed if it is relevant and material and if it cannot be discovered from another source.
Can I sue someone for wiretapping?
Yes, you can potentially sue someone for wiretapping under federal law if they intercepted your communication or used or disclosed information collected through illegal wiretapping. You might be able to get damages and an injunction. Damages might cover your actual losses and the profits obtained by the defendant, or they might be calculated at a statutory rate of $100 per day of violation, with a minimum of $10,000. State laws may provide further remedies.