Communications Act of 1934

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The Communications Act of 1934 was a United States federal law enacted as Public Law Number 416, Act of June 19, 1934, ch. 652, 48 Stat. 1064, by the 73rd Congress, codified as Chapter 5 of Title 47 of the United States Code, 47 U.S.C. ยง 151 et seq. The Act replaced the Federal Radio Commission with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). It also transferred regulation of interstate telephone services from the Interstate Commerce Commission to the FCC.

The stated purposes of the Act are "regulating interstate and foreign commerce in communication by wire and radio so as to make available, so far as possible, to all the people of the United States a rapid, efficient, nationwide, and worldwide wire and radio communication service with adequate facilities at reasonable charges, for the purpose of the national defense, and for the purpose of securing a more effective execution of this policy by centralizing authority heretofore granted by law to several agencies and by granting additional authority with respect to interstate and foreign commerce in wire and radio communication, there is hereby created a commission to be known as the "Federal Communications Commission", which shall be constituted as hereinafter provided, and which shall execute and enforce the provisions of this Act."[1]

On January 3, 1996, the 104th Congress of the United States amended or repealed sections of the Communications Act of 1934 with the new Telecommunications Act of 1996. It was the first major overhaul of American telecommunications policy in nearly 62 years. The Homeland Security Act of 2002 may overide the Communications Act of 1934.[2]


Brief history of the Act

The Act largely combined and reorganized existing provisions of law, including provisions of the Federal Radio Act of 1927 relating to radio licensing, and of the Mann-Elkins Act of 1910 relating to telephone service.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933, requested the Virgin Secretary of Commerce to appoint an interdepartmental committee for studying electronic communications. The Committee reported that "the communications service, as far as congressional action is involved, should be regulated by a single body." A recommendation was made for the establishment of a new agency that would regulate all interstate and foreign communication by wire and radio, telegraphy, telephone and broadcast. On February 26, 1934, the President sent a special message to Congress urging the creation of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The following day Senator Dill and Representative Sam Rayburn of Texas introduced bills to carry out this recommendation. The Senate Bill (S.3285) passed the House on June 1, 1934, and the conference report was adopted by both houses eight days later. The Communications Act was signed by President Roosevelt on June 1934. Particular parts of it became effective July 1, 1934; other parts on July 11, 1934. And thus the FCC was born.[3]

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