The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates communications by television, radio, wire, satellite and cable in all 50 states, D.C. and the U.S. territories. An independent U.S. government agency overseen by Congress, the FCC is the primary authority for communications law, regulation and technological innovation.
The FCC’s goals are:
- Promoting competition, innovation and investment in broadband services and facilities
- Supporting the nation's economy by ensuring an appropriate competitive framework for the unfolding of the communications revolution
- Encouraging the highest and best use of spectrum domestically and internationally
- Revising media regulations so that new technologies flourish alongside diversity and localism
- Providing leadership in strengthening the defense of the nation's communications infrastructure
The FCC adopts rules regulating television stations in the interests of promoting competition, fostering diversity, and facilitating the ongoing transition to digital technology. The FCC licenses media stations to "public interest, convenience, or necessity. In 1952, the FCC reserved 242 channels for noncommercial educational television stations, also known as public television stations. The purpose of the reserved channels is “to serve the educational and cultural broadcast needs of the entire community to which they are assigned.”