Monday, February 19, 2024

This Week in Television History: February 2024 PART III

    February 25, 1928

The Federal Radio Commission issues the first television license. 

The license went to the Charles Francis Jenkins Laboratories for a television broadcast station on Connecticut Avenue in Washington, D.C. The station later moved to Maryland and operated until 1932.

Government regulation of broadcasting has been in existence almost as long as the broadcast industry itself. The Wireless Act of 1910 required American ships to carry a broadcasting transmitter and qualified radio operator on all sea voyages. In the early 1920s, laws were passed governing transmission power, use of frequencies, station identification, and advertising. The Radio Act of 1927 shifted regulatory powers from the Department of Commerce to the new Federal Radio Commission, which became the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1934.

Today, the FCC still regulates broadcasting and communications. The U.S. president appoints its five commissioners with the Senate's consent. The commission licenses and regulates radio and TV broadcasters as well as other communications mediums, such as telephone and cable television. It assigns frequencies and call signs to radio stations and is responsible for ensuring rapid, efficient telephone and telegraph service. The FCC also operates the Emergency Broadcast System, which provides a vehicle for authorities to communicate with the public and disseminate critical information immediately when national disaster strikes (though the system can also be used to broadcast weather warnings and local emergencies).

More expansive policy issues under the purview of the commission include deciding how much sex and violence is permissible on television. Deregulation of the industry in the 1980s reduced the FCC's size from seven to five commissioners and increased the term of radio and television station licenses. In the 1990s, the FCC developed a television rating system, much like the one used in movies, which helps people decide which shows are appropriate for the viewers in their household.

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

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