Posted on September 28, 2012
Let me say up front that this blog is not an editorial position but only a discussion of the very interesting subject of the FCC’s jurisdiction. The subject came to attention by way of a news report this morning on “Between the Lines”, a national journalism program on current issues.
There is a move to prompt the FCC to issue a notice of proposed rule making in the interest of placing a cap on the amount charged by phone companies for service within penal institutions which presently are very expensive for inmates and their families. But here’s the part that stands out: because the FCC is a Federal agency, they only have jurisdiction over phone calling that crosses state lines and cannot impose rules on phone calls within states.
Hearing that brought to mind the defense being used in Austin, Texas, by unlicensed 90.1, which covers half the city, in their on-going court case claiming the FCC has no jurisdiction over their transmitter because the signal does not cross state lines.
That made me remember the largely redacted guide book obtained by kc8gpd under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Whatever was redacted is something we are not being allowed to know, and perhaps that includes the truth that the FCC has no jurisdiction over radio signals contained within a single state.
For broadcasting I can appreciate why the subject of jurisdiction would be carefully concealed, because there would be an outbreak of unlicensed signals popping on the air in every state, and each state would need to have a “State Communications Commission” with whole sets of rules in order to preserve order.
But for a few part 15ers “in the know”, it might be some comfort to know that hair-splitting rules may not apply to coverage within the state.