Regulating the Regulators: The FCC and Ex Parte Communication Standards

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2010

Publication Title

Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media




Between 1957 and 1960, a congressional subcommittee battled with the Federal Communications Committee (FCC) over the awarding of major market TV station licenses. Hearings were held after suspicions were raised in Congress that some license applicants had inappropriately contacted commissioners during award deliberations, and that some commissioners had accepted “favors” in exchange for sympathetic votes. The resulting volatile investigation cost two commissioners and a White House aide their jobs, but more importantly resulted in new regulations concerning ex parte communications and commissioner standards of ethical conduct. This article analyzes the tumultuous events that led to the creation of the new standards.