Regulatory authorities

The regulatory authority for broadcasting and telecommunication is the Federal Communication System (FCC). It has five Commissioners, appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Those appointments are partisan, and the law specifies that no more than three can be from a single party. The FCC is an independent regulatory agency, which means that although the Commissioners appointed by the President, their role is to apply the law, not to implement policies determined by the President, as with other Departments of the Federal government. Its policies do vary with the partisan composition of the Commission, though this tendency is limited by the fact that any decision of the Commission is subject to review by the courts. The FCC has been at the center of many important policy issues that have provoked widespread public debate in recent years, particularly over “net neutrality” and the related question of whether Internet service providers should be considered as telecommunication carriers and hence regulated as public utilities.  

The Antitrust Division of the Justice Department is responsible for enforcement of laws related to market concentration, and typically reviews media mergers and acquisitions, which it has the authority to challenge in the courts.  

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulates general consumer advertising; and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates pharmaceutical advertising, which is legal in the United States.  

The Federal Elections Commission (FEC) enforces laws related to financing and expenditure in election campaigns.