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Communications Law Research Guide

This guide suggests resources in media law, First Amendment, cable and broadcasting law, computer and internet law, and telecommunications.

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Federal Regulations and Proposed Federal Regulations

  • Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Federal regulations in the CFR are arranged in subject order; FCC regulations are in Title 47. Only final regulations are included in the CFR.  Refer to "Where to Find Federal Regulations" (left) for a list of places where the CFR is available. 
  • Federal Register. Refer to "Where to Find Federal Regulations" (left) for a list of places where the Federal Register is available. 
  • EDOCS at the FCC web site: "EDOCS lets you search a database of Daily Digest entries for FCC documents posted to the FCC web site since March 1996. The query searches on words and numbers that appeared in the Daily Digest title and in the description for each document, not on the full text of each document. EDOCS has two search modules: quick and advanced ."
  • FCC Record: A Comprehensive Compilation of Decisions, Reports, Public Notices and Other Documents of the Federal Communications Commission of the United StatesKF2765.1 .A55. Official source of FCC rulemaking documents.

For more information on finding federal regulations, try our Administrative Law Research Guide or our Administrative Law Tutorial.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Decisions

FCC Document Numbering System 

In the course of your research, you will encounter different types of document numbers. Here are some explanations:

  • FCC number (e.g. FCC-99-123): assigned to decisions/documents issued by the authority of the entire Commission, with each Commissioner voting. A FCC number is comprised of two digits indicating the year, and a number of up to 3 digits indicating the sequence.
  • DA number (e.g. DA-99-123): assigned to decisions/documents issued by authority delegated to the Bureaus and Offices by the Commission. A DA number is comprised of two digits indicating the year, and a number of up to 3 digits indicating the sequence.
  • Docket number (e.g. 83-593, WT 99-123): FCC actions that are related to a specific policy initiative called "a docketed proceeding" are assigned the same docket number assigned to the first proceeding. A docket number is comprised of two digits indicating the year, and a number of up to 3 digits indicating the sequence. Sometimes the initials of the initiating bureau are put at the beginning of a docket number. The initials are: CG for Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau, EB for Enforcement Bureau, IB for International Bureau, MB for Media Bureau, WT for Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, WC for Wireline Competition Bureau.
  • Rulemaking number (e.g. RM-5667)
  • Report number (e.g. Report No. 982): Assigned to public notices which are issued on a regular schedule are assigned a sequential report number.
  • Federal Register citation (e.g. 65 FR 2341): The FCC publishes summaries of decisions and other notices in the Federal Register. The first number is the volume, FR stands for Federal Register, and the last number is the page on which the decision or notice begins.
  • FCC Record citation (e.g. 19 FCCR 231): FCC Record is the official publication of FCC decisions and other documents. It continues FCC Reports, 2nd Series (FCC 2nd). The first number is the volume number, the last number the page on which the decision or notice begins.

If you have the FR or FCCR citation, you can easily retrieve the documents in:
the Federal Register (refer to "Where to Find Federal Regulations," left); FCC Record (print, online on Lexis and Westlaw); FCC Web site

If you have the Docket Number, Rulemaking number, FCC number, or DA number, you can easily retrieve the documents in:
FCC Web site; FCC Record (print - use the index; online on Lexis and Westlaw); Federal Register (refer to "Where to Find Federal Regulations," left).

Sources for FCC Decisions:

  • EDOCS at the FCC web site: "EDOCS lets you search a database of Daily Digest entries for FCC documents posted to the FCC web site since March 1996. The query searches on words and numbers that appeared in the Daily Digest title and in the description for each document, not on the full text of each document. EDOCS has two search modules: quick and advanced ."
  •  FCC Record: A Comprehensive Compilation of Decisions, Reports, Public Notices and Other Documents of the Federal Communications Commission of the United StatesKF2765.1 .A55. Official source of FCC rulemaking documents.
  • Lexis: Federal Communications Commission Decisions (from March 13, 1939); FCC Daily Digest (from August 3, 1989).
  • Westlaw: Federal Communications Commissions Decisions & Guidance (from 1965; includes the FCC Daily Digest, the FCC Reports or the FCC Record); FCC News (from January 1994; includes press releases, transcripts, reports, notices & regulations).
  • TheDCOffice.com: A regulatory service that provides tracking and alerts for FCC dockets, non-docketed filings, proposals and decisions, etc. (Current Georgetown Law students and faculty should contact the Reference Desk for information on getting set up with access.)

State Administrative Regulations

State Public Utilities Commission Decisions

States typically regulate public utilities through public utility commissions. Contact information for and links to the websites of all state public utility commissions are available from the National Association of Public Utility Commissioners web site.

  • Lexis: Public Utilities/Public Service Commission Decisions available for almost all states.  Go to Browse > Sources > start to type Public Commission Decisions to see what is available
  • Westlaw: Public Utility Commissions Decisions