Federal Communications Commission

Post Office Department Building, Twelfth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW.
EXecutive 3620, Branch 1

Chairman Paul A. Porter
   Paul A. Walker C.J. Durr
   Norman S. Case E.K. Jett
   R.C. Wakefield (Vacancy)
Secretary T.J. Slowie
General Counsel Charles R. Denny
Chief Engineer George Adair
Chief Accountant W.J. Norfleet
Director, Foreign Broadcast Intelligence Service Charles Hyneman

Creation and Authority.--The Federal Communications Commission was created by the Communications Act of 1934 (48 Stat. 1064; 15 U.S.C. 21; 47 U.S.C. 35, 151-609), and administers that act, as amended.

Purpose.--The act establishing the Commission was enacted "for the purpose of regulating interstate and foreign commerce in communication by wire and radio so as to make available, so far as possible, to all people of the United States a rapid, efficient, Nation-wide, and world-wide wire and radio communication service with adequate facilities at reasonable charges, for the purpose of the national defense, for the purpose of promoting safety of life and property through the use of wire and radio communication, and for the purpose of securing a more effective execution of this policy by centralizing authority theretofore granted by law to several agencies and by granting additional authority with respect to interstate and foreign commerce in wire and radio communication" (sec. 1).

Organization.--The Commission is composed of seven members, and functions as a unit. The Commission makes all important policy determinations and directly supervises all activities of the staff. From time to time, committees of the Commission are designated to make special studies and supervise particular undertakings. The performance of specified routine functions is delegated to individual commissioners; to the Administrative Board, consisting of heads of departments; and to department heads as individuals.


The staff organization consists of the following departments:

Accounting, Statistical, and Tariff Department (Chief Accountant), whose functions include matters of accounting regulation, compilation and analysis of statistics, and tariff analyses and regulations.

Engineering Department (Chief Engineer), whose functions include the engineering phases of broadcast licensing, common carrier regulation, regulation of the special services; supervision of the field staff; and technical engineering information and research.

Law Department (General Counsel), whose functions include the legal phases of radio licensing and of common carrier regulation; conduct of investigations; administration (including legislation, rule-making, and international matters); and litigation before the courts.

Secretary's Office (Secretary to the Commission), which has charge of all matters of internal administration.


The Commission administers the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, The major provisions of the act are described in the following paragraphs.

General.--Title I of the Communications Act contains provisions defining the purposes of the statue, fixing the terms and compensation of Commissioners, and conferring general powers. The statue provides that with certain exceptions employees of the Commission shall be appointed subject to the provisions of the civil-service laws and the Classification Act of 1923.

Common Carriers.--Title II applies to all common carriers. Common carriers engaged in interstate or foreign communication by wire or radio are required by title II to furnish communication service upon reasonable request, to establish physical connections with other carriers, to establish through routes and charges and the divisions thereof, and to establish and provide facilities. All charges and practices are required to be just and reasonable, and it is declared unlawful to any carrier to make unjust or unreasonable discriminations, or to extend undue or unreasonable preferences or advantages in connection with communication service. Carriers are required to publish and file with the Commission tariffs for all charges showing the practices affecting such charges. The Commission is given powers to hold hearings as to the lawfulness of charges, to suspend tariffs, and to prescribe just and reasonable rates. Persons claiming to suffer damages as a result of action by common carriers subject to the act may make complaint to the Commission. The Commission is required to investigate such complaints and is authorized to make awards of damages. Carriers are required to file their contracts with the Commission. persons seeking to hold office in more than one carrier company subject to the act must obtain the Commission's consent. The Commission has power to make valuations of carrier property, to make inquiries into management, to require the filing of annual reports, to prescribe systems of account, to authorize consolidations of telephone or telegraph companies, and to authorize extensions of lines. Discontinuance, reduction, or impairment of services to a community must be approved by the Commission.


Radio.--Part I of title II contains provisions respecting radio licensing and regulation. It is unlawful for any person to operate any apparatus for the transmission of energy or communications or signals by radio within any State, Territory, or possession when the effects of such use extend beyond the borders thereof, or upon vessels or aircraft of the United States, except in accordance with a license issued by the Commission. The statute requires that the operation of radio transmitting apparatus shall be carried on only by persons holding operators' licenses issued by the Commission.

The Commission is authorized to classify radio stations, prescribe the nature of their service, assign frequencies, and make regulations to carry out the purposes of the act. The established classifications include standard, relay, international, television, facsimile, and high-frequency broadcast stations; fixed public, experimental, coastal, strip, aviation, and emergency radio services; and amateur radio. The Commission also ha authority to revoke or modify licenses. Commission rules and regulations provide for a 3-year term for broadcast licenses.

With a few minor exceptions, the statue provides that no license shall be issued unless a permit for the construction of the station has first been issued. The act contains provisions against the holding of licenses by aliens, foreign corporations, representatives of foreign governments, domestic corporations in which an alien is an officer of director or in which aliens own or vote more than one-fifth of the stock, or by any person whose license has been revoked by a court for violation of the antitrust laws.

The standard governing the granting of licenses is "public interest, convenience, or necessity." If the Commission is able to determine from an examination of an application that public interest, convenience, or necessity would be served by a grant thereof, it is required to grant such an application without a hearing. if it cannot so determine, it must afford the applicant notice and opportunity to be heard.

The act prohibits assignment of licenses and transfer of control of licensee corporations except upon written consent of the Commission.

The statute provides that if a person who is a legally qualified candidate for public office is permitted to use a broadcast station, equal opportunity shall be afforded to all other candidates for that office in the use of the broadcast station. The broadcasting of information concerning lotteries, gift enterprises, and similar schemes, and the use of obscene, indecent, or profane language over the radio are prohibited. The act provides that the Commission shall have no power of censorship over radio communications.

Safety at Sea.--Part II of title III requires the use of radio for safety purposes on board certain classes of ships of the United States and also confers powers on the Commission to carry out the provisions of the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (London, 1929).

Procedure.--Title IV contains procedural and administrative provisions. It gives the Commission power to make investigations on its own motion, and to issue subpoenas and to receive depositions, and provides for appeal from the Commission to the courts. The statue provides for cooperation by the Commission with State commissions with respect to common carrier matters.


Penalties.--Title V contains penal and forfeiture provisions. In general, violations of the statue are punishable by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than 2 years, or both. Violation of a rule of the Commission in punishable by a fine of not more than $500 for each day during which the offense occurs. Forfeitures are recoverable in United States courts and the Commission is given powers in certain cases to remit and mitigate forfeitures.

Privacy, War, and Emergency Provisions.--Title VI prohibits the unauthorized interception and publication of communications. During the continuance of a war in which the United States is engaged, or upon proclamation by the President that war or a threat of war, a state of public peril or disaster, or other national emergency exists, special powers are conferred upon the President in connection with communications. (By Executive orders these war powers have been delegated to the Board of War Communications.)

War Activities

In addition to its regulatory duties the Commission devotes considerable time to the following activities which have arisen out of or have been expanded due to war:

Radio Intelligence Division.--Through field units strategically located throughout the United States, its Territories and possessions, this Division locates unlicensed stations and develops evidence for prosecution for violations of the Communications Act; localizes sources of interference to legitimate radio services; and performs emergency direction-finding service to aircraft in distress. The Division also engages in special monitoring work in connection with its wartime responsibilities of policing the ether on all radio frequencies and renders this service to other Government agencies at their request.

Foreign Broadcast Intelligence Service.--Established in February 1941 at the original suggestion of the State Department, the Foreign Broadcast Intelligence Service records, translates, analyzes, and reports on Foreign broadcast programs to interested Government agencies.

Cooperation with Board of War Communications.--The Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission is also chairman of the Board of War Communications and the staff of the Commission performs various functions under the Board, which itself has no staff or appropriations. Many of the Commission's specific war activities are undertaken at the request or direction of the Board.

Miscellaneous.--To prevent the illegal use of radio equipment the Commission has undertaken such measures as the registration of all diathermy machines and other unlicensed equipment capable of emitting radio signals; ascertaining complete information with respect to citizenship of licensed radio operators; and assembling of technical information on materials requirements for the WPB.


District Offices--Federal Communications Commission
Radio District Inspector in Charge Address
No. 1 Charles C. Kolster Customhouse, Boston 9, Mass.
No. 2 Arthur Batcheller 748 Federal Building, 641 Washington Street, New York, 14, N.Y.
No. 3 Forrest F. Redfern 1200 New U.S. Customhouse, Second and Chestnut Streets, Philadelphia 6, Pa.
No. 4 Edward W. Chapin 508 Old Town Bank Building, Gay Street and Falsway, Baltimore 2, Md.
No. 5 Hyman A. Cohen 402 New Post Office Building, Norfolk, Va.
No. 6 Paul H. Herndon, Jr. 411 Federal Annex, Atlanta 3, Ga.
   Suboffice Joseph L. Condon, Radio Inspector P.O. Box 77 (214-218 Post Office Building), Savannah, Ga.
No. 7 Arthur S. Fish P.O. Box 150 (312 Federal Building), Miami 1, Fla.
   Suboffice Milton W. Grinnell, Inspector 203 P.O. Building, Tampa 2, Fla.
No. 8 Theodore G. Deller 400 Audubon Building, New Orleans 16, La.
No. 9 Nathan A. Hallenstein 404 Federal Building, Galveston, Tex.
   Suboffice William E. Clyne, Radio Inspector P.O. Box 1527 (32 Post Office Building), Beaumont, Tex.
No. 10 Louis L. McCabe P.O. Box 5238 (500 U.S. Terminal Annex Building), Dallas 2, Tex.
No. 11 Bernard H. Linden 539 U.S. Post Office and Courthouse Building, Temple and Spring Streets, Los Angeles 12, Calif.
   Suboffice Harold D. DeVoe, Radio Inspector 307 U.S. Customhouse and Courthouse Building, Union and F Streets, San Diego 1, Calif.
No. 12 Francis V. Sloan 328 Customhouse, San Francisco 26, Calif.
No. 13 George V. Wiltse 805 Terminal Sales Building, Portland 5, Oreg.
No. 14 L.C. Herndon 808 Federal Office Building, Seattle 4, Wash.
No. 15 G. Franklin Lee 504 Customhouse, Denver 2, Colo.
No. 16 Donald A. Murray 208 Uptown Post Office and Federal Court Building, Fifth and Washington Streets, St. Paul 2, Minn.
No. 17 William J. McDonell 809 U.S. Courthouse Building, Kansas City 6, Mo.
No. 18 H.D. Hayes 246 U.S. Courthouse Building, Chicago 4, Ill.
No. 19 Emery H. Lee 1029 New Federal Building, Detroit 26, Mich.
   Suboffice Paul Holloway, Radio Inspector 541 Old Post Office Building, Cleveland 14, Ohio
No. 20 Walter L. Davis 328 Federal Building, Buffalo 3, N.Y.
No. 21 John H. Homsy 609 Stangenwald Building, Honolulu 1, T.H.
No. 22 Edward H. Hackman P.O. Box 2987 (322-323 Federal Building), San Juan 13, Puerto Rico
No. 23 Edwin S. Heiser P.O. Box 1421 (7-8 Shattuck Building), Juneau, Alaska
Benjamin E. Wolf Central Frequency monitoring Station, P.O. Box 788, Grand Island, Nebr.
Irl D. Ball Monitoring Station, P.O. Box 89, Allegan, Mich.
Glen W. Earnhart Monitoring Station, P.O. Box 632, Kingsville, Tex.
Accounting Department Carl E. Zenns, Acting Accountant in charge 515 First National Bank Building, Atlanta 3, Ga.
William B. Pitts, Accountant in charge 299 Broadway, New york 7, N.Y.
Curtis M. Bushnell, Accountant in charge 1860 Railway Exchange Building, St. Louis 1, Mo.
Paul Summerhays, Accountant in charge 809-810 West Coast Life Building, 605 Market Street, San Francisco 5, Calif.
Law Department A. Harry Becker Room 1318, 110 S. Dearborn Street, Chicago 3, Ill.
J. Alfred Guest 36 W. Forth-fourth Street, New York 18, N.Y.
John P. Hearne Room 902, 100 McAllister Street, San Francisco 2, Calif.


Paul A. Porter

The FCC in World War II:


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Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation