United States Code

USC most recently checked for updates: Dec 12, 2019

§ 154.
Federal Communications Commission
(a)
Number of commissioners; appointment

The Federal Communications Commission (in this chapter referred to as the “Commission”) shall be composed of five commissioners appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, one of whom the President shall designate as chairman.

(b)
Qualifications
(1)
Each member of the Commission shall be a citizen of the United States.
(2)
(A)
No member of the Commission or person employed by the Commission shall—
(i)
be financially interested in any company or other entity engaged in the manufacture or sale of telecommunications equipment which is subject to regulation by the Commission;
(ii)
be financially interested in any company or other entity engaged in the business of communication by wire or radio or in the use of the electromagnetic spectrum;
(iii)
be financially interested in any company or other entity which controls any company or other entity specified in clause (i) or clause (ii), or which derives a significant portion of its total income from ownership of stocks, bonds, or other securities of any such company or other entity; or
(iv)
be employed by, hold any official relation to, or own any stocks, bonds, or other securities of, any person significantly regulated by the Commission under this chapter;
except that the prohibitions established in this subparagraph shall apply only to financial interests in any company or other entity which has a significant interest in communications, manufacturing, or sales activities which are subject to regulation by the Commission.
(B)
(i)
The Commission shall have authority to waive, from time to time, the application of the prohibitions established in subparagraph (A) to persons employed by the Commission if the Commission determines that the financial interests of a person which are involved in a particular case are minimal, except that such waiver authority shall be subject to the provisions of section 208 of title 18. The waiver authority established in this subparagraph shall not apply with respect to members of the Commission.
(ii)
In any case in which the Commission exercises the waiver authority established in this subparagraph, the Commission shall publish notice of such action in the Federal Register.
(3)
The Commission, in determining whether a company or other entity has a significant interest in communications, manufacturing, or sales activities which are subject to regulation by the Commission, shall consider (without excluding other relevant factors)—
(A)
the revenues, investments, profits, and managerial efforts directed to the related communications, manufacturing, or sales activities of the company or other entity involved, as compared to the other aspects of the business of such company or other entity;
(B)
the extent to which the Commission regulates and oversees the activities of such company or other entity;
(C)
the degree to which the economic interests of such company or other entity may be affected by any action of the Commission; and
(D)
the perceptions held by the public regarding the business activities of such company or other entity.
(4)
Members of the Commission shall not engage in any other business, vocation, profession, or employment while serving as such members.
(5)
The maximum number of commissioners who may be members of the same political party shall be a number equal to the least number of commissioners which constitutes a majority of the full membership of the Commission.
(c)
Terms of office; vacancies
(1)
A commissioner—
(A)
shall be appointed for a term of 5 years;
(B)
except as provided in subparagraph (C), may continue to serve after the expiration of the fixed term of office of the commissioner until a successor is appointed and has been confirmed and taken the oath of office; and
(C)
may not continue to serve after the expiration of the session of Congress that begins after the expiration of the fixed term of office of the commissioner.
(2)
Any person chosen to fill a vacancy in the Commission—
(A)
shall be appointed for the unexpired term of the commissioner that the person succeeds;
(B)
except as provided in subparagraph (C), may continue to serve after the expiration of the fixed term of office of the commissioner that the person succeeds until a successor is appointed and has been confirmed and taken the oath of office; and
(C)
may not continue to serve after the expiration of the session of Congress that begins after the expiration of the fixed term of office of the commissioner that the person succeeds.
(3)
No vacancy in the Commission shall impair the right of the remaining commissioners to exercise all the powers of the Commission.
(d)
Compensation of Commission members

Each Commissioner shall receive an annual salary at the annual rate payable from time to time for level IV of the Executive Schedule, payable in monthly installments. The Chairman of the Commission, during the period of his service as Chairman, shall receive an annual salary at the annual rate payable from time to time for level III of the Executive Schedule.

(e)
Principal office; special sessions

The principal office of the Commission shall be in the District of Columbia, where its general sessions shall be held; but whenever the convenience of the public or of the parties may be promoted or delay or expense prevented thereby, the Commission may hold special sessions in any part of the United States.

(f)
Employees and assistants; compensation of members of Field Engineering and Monitoring Bureau; use of amateur volunteers for certain purposes; commercial radio operator examinations
(1)
The Commission shall have authority, subject to the provisions of the civil-service laws and chapter 51 and subchapter III of chapter 53 of title 5, to appoint such officers, engineers, accountants, attorneys, inspectors, examiners, and other employees as are necessary in the exercise of its functions.
(2)
Without regard to the civil-service laws, but subject to chapter 51 and subchapter III of chapter 53 of title 5, each commissioner may appoint three professional assistants and a secretary, each of whom shall perform such duties as such commissioner shall direct. In addition, the chairman of the Commission may appoint, without regard to the civil-service laws, but subject to chapter 51 and subchapter III of chapter 53 of title 5, and administrative assistant who shall perform such duties as the chairman shall direct.
(3)
The Commission shall fix a reasonable rate of extra compensation for overtime services of engineers in charge and radio engineers of the Field Engineering and Monitoring Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission, who may be required to remain on duty between the hours of 5 o’clock postmeridian and 8 o’clock antemeridian or on Sundays or holidays to perform services in connection with the inspection of ship radio equipment and apparatus for the purposes of part II of subchapter III of this chapter or the Great Lakes Agreement, on the basis of one-half day’s additional pay for each two hours or fraction thereof of at least one hour that the overtime extends beyond 5 o’clock postmeridian (but not to exceed two and one-half days’ pay for the full period from 5 o’clock postmeridian to 8 o’clock antemeridian) and two additional days’ pay for Sunday or holiday duty. The said extra compensation for overtime services shall be paid by the master, owner, or agent of such vessel to the local United States collector of customs or his representative, who shall deposit such collection into the Treasury of the United States to an appropriately designated receipt account: Provided, That the amounts of such collections received by the said collector of customs or his representatives shall be covered into the Treasury as miscellaneous receipts; and the payments of such extra compensation to the several employees entitled thereto shall be made from the annual appropriations for salaries and expenses of the Commission: Provided further, That to the extent that the annual appropriations which are authorized to be made from the general fund of the Treasury are insufficient, there are authorized to be appropriated from the general fund of the Treasury such additional amounts as may be necessary to the extent that the amounts of such receipts are in excess of the amounts appropriated: Provided further, That such extra compensation shall be paid if such field employees have been ordered to report for duty and have so reported whether the actual inspection of the radio equipment or apparatus takes place or not: And provided further, That in those ports where customary working hours are other than those hereinabove mentioned, the engineers in charge are vested with authority to regulate the hours of such employees so as to agree with prevailing working hours in said ports where inspections are to be made, but nothing contained in this proviso shall be construed in any manner to alter the length of a working day for the engineers in charge and radio engineers or the overtime pay herein fixed: and Provided further, That, in the alternative, an entity designated by the Commission may make the inspections referred to in this paragraph.
(4)
(A)
The Commission, for purposes of preparing or administering any examination for an amateur station operator license, may accept and employ the voluntary and uncompensated services of any individual who holds an amateur station operator license of a higher class than the class of license for which the examination is being prepared or administered. In the case of examinations for the highest class of amateur station operator license, the Commission may accept and employ such services of any individual who holds such class of license.
(B)
(i)
The Commission, for purposes of monitoring violations of any provision of this chapter (and of any regulation prescribed by the Commission under this chapter) relating to the amateur radio service, may—
(I)
recruit and train any individual licensed by the Commission to operate an amateur station; and
(II)
accept and employ the voluntary and uncompensated services of such individual.
(ii)
The Commission, for purposes of recruiting and training individuals under clause (i) and for purposes of screening, annotating, and summarizing violation reports referred under clause (i), may accept and employ the voluntary and uncompensated services of any amateur station operator organization.
(iii)
The functions of individuals recruited and trained under this subparagraph shall be limited to—
(I)
the detection of improper amateur radio transmissions;
(II)
the conveyance to Commission personnel of information which is essential to the enforcement of this chapter (or regulations prescribed by the Commission under this chapter) relating to the amateur radio service; and
(III)
issuing advisory notices, under the general direction of the Commission, to persons who apparently have violated any provision of this chapter (or regulations prescribed by the Commission under this chapter) relating to the amateur radio service.
Nothing in this clause shall be construed to grant individuals recruited and trained under this subparagraph any authority to issue sanctions to violators or to take any enforcement action other than any action which the Commission may prescribe by rule.
(C)
(i)
The Commission, for purposes of monitoring violations of any provision of this chapter (and of any regulation prescribed by the Commission under this chapter) relating to the citizens band radio service, may—
(I)
recruit and train any citizens band radio operator; and
(II)
accept and employ the voluntary and uncompensated services of such operator.
(ii)
The Commission, for purposes of recruiting and training individuals under clause (i) and for purposes of screening, annotating, and summarizing violation reports referred under clause (i), may accept and employ the voluntary and uncompensated services of any citizens band radio operator organization. The Commission, in accepting and employing services of individuals under this subparagraph, shall seek to achieve a broad representation of individuals and organizations interested in citizens band radio operation.
(iii)
The functions of individuals recruited and trained under this subparagraph shall be limited to—
(I)
the detection of improper citizens band radio transmissions;
(II)
the conveyance to Commission personnel of information which is essential to the enforcement of this chapter (or regulations prescribed by the Commission under this chapter) relating to the citizens band radio service; and
(III)
issuing advisory notices, under the general direction of the Commission, to persons who apparently have violated any provision of this chapter (or regulations prescribed by the Commission under this chapter) relating to the citizens band radio service.
Nothing in this clause shall be construed to grant individuals recruited and trained under this subparagraph any authority to issue sanctions to violators or to take any enforcement action other than any action which the Commission may prescribe by rule.
(D)
The Commission shall have the authority to endorse certification of individuals to perform transmitter installation, operation, maintenance, and repair duties in the private land mobile services and fixed services (as defined by the Commission by rule) if such certification programs are conducted by organizations or committees which are representative of the users in those services and which consist of individuals who are not officers or employees of the Federal Government.
(E)
The authority of the Commission established in this paragraph shall not be subject to or affected by the provisions of part III of title 5 or section 1342 of title 31.
(F)
Any person who provides services under this paragraph shall not be considered, by reason of having provided such services, a Federal employee.
(G)
The Commission, in accepting and employing services of individuals under subparagraphs (A) and (B), shall seek to achieve a broad representation of individuals and organizations interested in amateur station operation.
(H)
The Commission may establish rules of conduct and other regulations governing the service of individuals under this paragraph.
(I)
With respect to the acceptance of voluntary uncompensated services for the preparation, processing, or administration of examinations for amateur station operator licenses pursuant to subparagraph (A) of this paragraph, individuals, or organizations which provide or coordinate such authorized volunteer services may recover from examinees reimbursement for out-of-pocket costs.
(5)
(A)
The Commission, for purposes of preparing and administering any examination for a commercial radio operator license or endorsement, may accept and employ the services of persons that the Commission determines to be qualified. Any person so employed may not receive compensation for such services, but may recover from examinees such fees as the Commission permits, considering such factors as public service and cost estimates submitted by such person.
(B)
The Commission may prescribe regulations to select, oversee, sanction, and dismiss any person authorized under this paragraph to be employed by the Commission.
(C)
Any person who provides services under this paragraph or who provides goods in connection with such services shall not, by reason of having provided such service or goods, be considered a Federal or special government employee.
(g)
Expenditures
(1)
The Commission may make such expenditures (including expenditures for rent and personal services at the seat of government and elsewhere, for office supplies, law books, period­icals, and books of reference, for printing and binding, for land for use as sites for radio monitoring stations and related facilities, including living quarters where necessary in remote areas, for the construction of such stations and facilities, and for the improvement, furnishing, equipping, and repairing of such stations and facilities and of laboratories and other related facilities (including construction of minor subsidiary buildings and structures not exceeding $25,000 in any one instance) used in connection with technical research activities), as may be necessary for the execution of the functions vested in the Commission and as may be appropriated for by the Congress in accordance with the authorizations of appropriations established in section 156 of this title. All expenditures of the Commission, including all necessary expenses for transportation incurred by the commissioners or by their employees, under their orders, in making any investigation or upon any official business in any other places than in the city of Washington, shall be allowed and paid on the presentation of itemized vouchers therefor approved by the chairman of the Commission or by such other member or officer thereof as may be designated by the Commission for that purpose.
(2)
Repealed. Pub. L. 115–141, div. P, title IV, § 402(i)(1)(B), Mar. 23, 2018, 132 Stat. 1089.
(3)
(A)
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, in furtherance of its functions the Commission is authorized to accept, hold, administer, and use unconditional gifts, donations, and bequests of real, personal, and other property (including voluntary and uncompensated services, as authorized by section 3109 of title 5).
(B)
The Commission, for purposes of providing radio club and military-recreational call signs, may utilize the voluntary, uncompensated, and unreimbursed services of amateur radio organizations authorized by the Commission that have tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of title 26.
(C)
For the purpose of Federal law on income taxes, estate taxes, and gift taxes, property or services accepted under the authority of subparagraph (A) shall be deemed to be a gift, bequest, or devise to the United States.
(D)
The Commission shall promulgate regulations to carry out the provisions of this paragraph. Such regulations shall include provisions to preclude the acceptance of any gift, bequest, or donation that would create a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest.
(h)
Quorum; seal

Three members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum thereof. The Commission shall have an official seal which shall be judicially noticed.

(i)
Duties and powers

The Commission may perform any and all acts, make such rules and regulations, and issue such orders, not inconsistent with this chapter, as may be necessary in the execution of its functions.

(j)
Conduct of proceedings; hearings

The Commission may conduct its proceedings in such manner as will best conduce to the proper dispatch of business and to the ends of justice. No commissioner shall participate in any hearing or proceeding in which he has a pecuniary interest. Any party may appear before the Commission and be heard in person or by attorney. Every vote and official act of the Commission shall be entered of record, and its proceedings shall be public upon the request of any party interested. The Commission is authorized to withhold publication of records or proceedings containing secret information affecting the national defense.

(k)
Record of reports

All reports of investigations made by the Commission shall be entered of record, and a copy thereof shall be furnished to the party who may have complained, and to any common carrier or licensee that may have been complained of.

(l)
Publication of reports; admissibility as evidence

The Commission shall provide for the publication of its reports and decisions in such form and manner as may be best adapted for public information and use, and such authorized publications shall be competent evidence of the reports and decisions of the Commission therein contained in all courts of the United States and of the several States without any further proof or authentication thereof.

(m)
Compensation of appointees

Rates of compensation of persons appointed under this section shall be subject to the reduction applicable to officers and employees of the Federal Government generally.

(n)
Use of communications in safety of life and property

For the purpose of obtaining maximum effectiveness from the use of radio and wire communications in connection with safety of life and property, the Commission shall investigate and study all phases of the problem and the best methods of obtaining the cooperation and coordination of these systems.

(June 19, 1934, ch. 652, title I, § 4, 48 Stat. 1066; Jan. 22, 1936, ch. 25, 49 Stat. 1098; May 20, 1937, ch. 229, §§ 3, 4, 50 Stat. 190; Mar. 23, 1941, ch. 24, 55 Stat. 46; July 16, 1952, ch. 879, § 3, 66 Stat. 711; Aug. 13, 1954, ch. 735, § 2, 68 Stat. 729; Pub. L. 86–533, § 1(24), June 29, 1960, 74 Stat. 249; Pub. L. 86–619, § 2, July 12, 1960, 74 Stat. 407; Pub. L. 86–752, § 2, Sept. 13, 1960, 74 Stat. 889; Pub. L. 97–35, title XII, § 1251(b), Aug. 13, 1981, 95 Stat. 738; Pub. L. 97–253, title V, § 501(b)(1)–(3), Sept. 8, 1982, 96 Stat. 805, 806; Pub. L. 97–259, title I, §§ 102–104, Sept. 13, 1982, 96 Stat. 1087–1089; Pub. L. 98–214, §§ 10, 11, Dec. 8, 1983, 97 Stat. 1471; Pub. L. 99–272, title V, § 5002(b), Apr. 7, 1986, 100 Stat. 118; Pub. L. 99–334, § 1(a), June 6, 1986, 100 Stat. 513; Pub. L. 100–594, § 3, Nov. 3, 1988, 102 Stat. 3021; Pub. L. 101–396, §§ 3, 4, Sept. 28, 1990, 104 Stat. 848, 849; Pub. L. 102–538, title II, §§ 201, 208, Oct. 27, 1992, 106 Stat. 3542, 3543; Pub. L. 103–414, title III, § 303(a)(1), Oct. 25, 1994, 108 Stat. 4294; Pub. L. 104–66, title II, § 2051(b), Dec. 21, 1995, 109 Stat. 729; Pub. L. 104–104, title IV, § 403(a), (b), Feb. 8, 1996, 110 Stat. 130;
cite as: 47 USC 154