The Federal Communications Commission: Front Line in the Culture and Regulation Wars

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In its more than seventy years of existence, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has emerged as one of the most important and controversial agencies in the United States government. As an independent regulatory commission, the FCC possesses an expansive legislative mandate to formulate a national communications policy. Using its authority, the FCC has done such far-reaching things as setting rates for long distance telephone service, creating rules and standards for broadcast programming, writing regulations for providers of cable television and information services, and, in recent decades, introducing competition in virtually every sector of the communications industry. As the FCC has gone about implementing its statutory mandate, it has frequently been the target of criticism by interest groups and members of Congress. Even these critics, however, would have a hard time imagining how a task as complicated as the formulation of a national telecommunications policy could be accomplished without the expertise and full time attention of an agency such as the FCC.

The first work to integrate detailed information on the FCC as an organization—its politics, key policy initiatives, and legal issues—offers students, researchers, and general readers alike easy access to an array of topics related to the FCC. Chapters discuss the agency's origins, organization, programs, controversies, notable people, and significant court cases. Topics include the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Michael Powell, Verizon Communications Inc. v. FCC, the Fairness Doctrine, telephone-cable competition, and indecency. A comprehensive annotated bibliography lists sources for further research.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[A] nuts-and-bolts look at the agency, a history of its evolution and a survey of its controversial and important cases - including Howard Stern, the fairness doctrine and questions of how far any government agency should go in regulating content. The book is more textbook than opinion or advocacy, which serves the reader well in understanding why the commission has taken certain actions and not others. It is not authorized, for instance, to initiate complaints against any broadcasters. It can act only on complaints it receives from the public. Moreover, while the FCC is an independent agency, the Zarkins explain how it often reflects Congress and the President….The book isn't always a breezy read. But it's a valuable one."


Daily News

"This collection of information for the general readership dispels the confusion about the mission of the FCC, its authority, and its activities. It starts with a brief history, beginning during the New Deal, continuing through the new days of cable. It describes the commission's organization and procedures, the political environment surrounding it, notable controversies in telephone and mass media regulation, biographies of the current commissioners, annotated Supreme Court decisions from 1930 to 2004, and a chronology of key events. Appendices include a list of case law on a variety of issues, including the breakup of the Bell system and indecency rulings."


Reference & Research Book News

"[S]uitable for college or high school students researching FOC matters, as well as anyone who wants to learn more about the agency….[a] useful book if you are involved in teaching broadcast regulation or want to understand the workings of the commission on a broad scope."


Radio World

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780313334160
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/30/2006
  • Series: Understanding Our Government Series
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

KIMBERLY A. ZARKIN is Assistant Professor of Communications at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, UT. She is author of Anti-Indecency Groups and the Federal Communications Commission: A Study in the Politics of Broadcast Regulation (2003).

MICHAEL J. ZARKIN is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, UT. He is author of Social Learning and the History Of U.S. Telecommunications Policy, 1900-1996 (2003).

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Table of Contents


The FCC: The Origins and Purpose of an Agency

Organization and Procedures

The Political Environment

Notable Controversies in Telephone Regulation

Notable Controversies in Mass Media Regulation

Biographies of the Commissioners

Appellate Court Cases, 1928-2004

Annotated Bibliography of Selected Academic Resources

Appendix A: Application for Renewal of Broadcast Station License

Appendix B: Policy Statement on Indecency

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