Features – Finding Information on the Federal Communications Commission Web Site

Diana Botluk is a reference librarian at the Judge Kathryn J. DuFour Law Library at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and is the author of the 1996 edition of The Legal List: Research on the Internet. She is a regular columnist for the Internet Law Researcher, where she writes about finding information on the World Wide Web. She also teaches basic, advanced and online legal research at the University of Maryland, and co-chairs the Internet Focus Group for the Law Librarians’ Society of Washington, D.C.

(Archived October 1, 1997)

The FCC’s Daily Digest

The Federal Communications Commission offers a wealth of information for communications law professionals. The FCC’s Daily Digest is an important tool to keep apprised of new administrative action in the telecommunications field. This publication, released every business day, is the key to the FCC information door. It provides summaries and lists of new FCC documents, including orders, reports, news releases and public notices. Although the FCC Daily Digest can be purchased in paper format, technology has become an important part of its distribution. A new issue is available at noon each day.

  • The Daily Digest may be sent to an e-mail box each day by subscribing to the FCC’s listserver. To subscribe, send an e-mail message to [email protected]. The subject line of the e-mail message should be left blank. The body of the message should read “subscribe digest Your Name”, where the subscriber’s name is substituted for the words “Your Name.”
  • More information about the FCC’s Daily Digest listserver can be found on the Internet at http://www.fcc.gov/ftp/reference_tools/listserv.txt.
  • The world wide web can be used to access current issues of the Daily Digest.
  • It usually appears at the FCC’s FTP site (ftp://ftp.fcc.gov/pub/Daily_Releases/Daily_Digest) by noon each business day.
  • The link to the Daily Digest from the FCC Web site is generally updated by 1:30 p.m. each business day.
  • The Daily Digest web page also includes a calendar. Researchers need only click on a desired date to proceed directly to the Daily Digest for that date.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Home Page

A great deal of telecommunications law information can be found on the Internet by browsing the FCC Web site. When the Daily Digest contains a reference to a document, the full text of the document can be found at the FCC Web site. Located at this site is an online library containing the following types of documents published by the FCC:

  • News releases containing brief, unofficial summaries of FCC orders or other actions.
  • Orders, which are the official statements of FCC action. Full text copies since mid-1994 are available online. However, it should be noted that the copy printed by the FCC is the official version, and the online copies are not considered official.
  • Notices of Proposed Rule Making (NPRMs), which are notices of regulations being considered by the FCC.
  • Speeches by FCC officials.
  • Fact sheets on controversial or technical topics are available online.
  • A current agenda of open FCC meetings.
  • The FCC’s Daily Digest, published every business day, summarizing new FCC orders, news releases, speeches, and public notices.
  • The FCC staff telephone directory.
  • FCC forms.

FCC — Bureaus/Offices

The FCC’s organization is divided into Bureaus and Offices, which oversee different topical areas of FCC regulation.

The Cable Services Bureau
regulates cable television
The Common Carrier Bureau
regulates telephone and telegraph
The International Bureau
regulates international and satellite communications
The Mass Media Bureau
regulates television and radio broadcasting
The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau
regulates private radio, cellular telephone, and pagers
The Compliance & Information Bureau
investigates violations and answers questions
The Office of Engineering & Technology
manages the spectrum and provides leadership to create new opportunities for competitive technologies and services
The Office of Inspector General
conducts and supervises audits and investigations relating to the programs and operations of the agency
The Office of Plans and Policy
assists, advises and makes recommendations to the Commission with respect to the development and implementation of communications policies
The Office of General Counsel
serves as the chief legal advisor to the FCC
The Office of Communications Business Opportunities
works to promote opportunities for ownership and employment in the communications industry for small business

Most FCC documents can be found on the Internet at the Web site of the particular bureau or office that generated them. Additionally, some documents can be found under the heading of “Miscellaneous” that appears on the FCC home page.

Additionally, there are many “hot topics” areas at the FCC Web site that allow researchers to locate information about certain communications related subjects in one convenient place. Some of these topics include digital television, children’s television, and bandwidth. Here, researchers can also locate the full text of many documents surrounding the implementation of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, including the Act, itself, and related FCC reports, orders, and speeches.

FCC Web Site Search Tools

For even more assistance in locating relevant information, the FCC web site offers two different search tools. The FCC Digital Index allows a search through Daily Digest entries for FCC documents since March 1996. The FCC Word Search Tool goes even further, allowing a search for keywords or concepts in FCC documents that appear in HTML or ASCII formats.

The FCC uses Internet technology not only to provide information, but to collect it as well. It offers the Quick Start Comment Filing system, allowing individuals the choice of using the Internet to submit informal comments on selected FCC proceedings. Comments submitted using this system can also be researched online. More details can be found at the FCC Internet Comment Pages.

Posted in: Features, Internet Resources