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The FCC issues broadcast licenses listing the community of license, the channel and operation of a radio station.  Although the FCC does not control the selection of programming that is broadcast, the FCC imposes restriction on indecent programming and the number of commercials aired during children’s programming.

The FCC prohibits unlicensed operation of radio broadcast, even at low powers such as one watt or less.  The only unlicensed operation that is permitted on the AM and FM broadcast bands is covered under Part 15 of the FCC’s rules.  However, the FCC grants license for the operation limited to a coverage radius of approximately 200 feet only.  Illegal operation of an unlicensed station results in fines and/or criminal prosecution. 

The FCC is responsible for enforcing the federal laws which prohibit airing of obscene programs at any time and airing of indecent programs or profane language during certain hours.  The FCC has the power to revoke a station license, issue a warning or impose a monetary forfeiture.  The FCC initiates these enforcement actions on the basis of documented complaints form the public about obscene, indecent, or profane material.  After review of the complaint, if the FCC finds that violation of the statute or FCC rules regarding obscenity, indecency and profanity occurred, the FCC issues a Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL), which is a preliminary finding that the statute or rules have been violated.  Afterward, the FCC confirms, reduces or rescinds the NAL when it issues a Forfeiture Order.  The FCC has established rules to reduce broadcasting interference.

Inside FCC