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U.S. CODE
TITLE 47
TELEGRAPHS, TELEPHONES, AND RADIOTELEGRAPHS

Version 2011-07-01

Last update 2011-12-19


  • TELEGRAPHS
  • SUBMARINE CABLES
  • RADIOTELEGRAPHS
  • RADIO ACT OF 1927
  • WIRE OR RADIO COMMUNICATION
    • GENERAL PROVISIONS
    • COMMON CARRIERS
      • Common Carrier Regulation
      • Development of Competitive Markets
      • Special Provisions Concerning Bell Operating Companies
    • SPECIAL PROVISIONS RELATING TO RADIO
      • General Provisions
      • Radio Equipment and Radio Operators On Board Ship
      • Radio Installations on Vessels Carrying Passengers for Hire
      • Assistance for Planning and Construction of Public Telecommunications Facilities; Telecommunications Demonstrations; Corporation for Public Broadcasting; General Provisions
        • assistance for planning and construction of public telecommunications facilities
        • national endowment for childrens educational television
        • telecommunications demonstrations
        • corporation for public broadcasting
        • general provisions
    • PROCEDURAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE PROVISIONS
    • PENAL PROVISIONS; FORFEITURES
    • CABLE COMMUNICATIONS
      • General Provisions
      • Use of Cable Channels and Cable Ownership Restrictions
      • Franchising and Regulation
      • Miscellaneous Provisions
      • Video Programming Services Provided by Telephone Companies
    • MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS
  • COMMUNICATIONS SATELLITE SYSTEM
    • GENERAL PROVISIONS
    • FEDERAL COORDINATION, PLANNING, AND REGULATION
    • COMMUNICATIONS SATELLITE CORPORATION
    • MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS
    • INTERNATIONAL MARITIME SATELLITE TELECOMMUNICATIONS
    • COMMUNICATIONS COMPETITION AND PRIVATIZATION
      • Actions To Ensure Pro-Competitive Privatization
      • Federal Communications Commission Licensing Criteria: Privatization Criteria
      • Deregulation and Other Statutory Changes
      • Negotiations To Pursue Privatization
      • Definitions
  • CAMPAIGN COMMUNICATIONS
  • NATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION ADMINISTRATION
    • ORGANIZATION AND FUNCTIONS
    • TRANSFER OF AUCTIONABLE FREQUENCIES
    • MISCELLANEOUS
  • INTERCEPTION OF DIGITAL AND OTHER COMMUNICATIONS
    • INTERCEPTION OF DIGITAL AND OTHER COMMUNICATIONS
    • TELECOMMUNICATIONS CARRIER COMPLIANCE PAYMENTS
  • LOCAL TV
  • COMMERCIAL MOBILE SERVICE ALERTS
  • BROADBAND

CHAPTER 1

TELEGRAPHS

Repealed

Section 1, R.S. § 5263, related to use of public domain.

Section 2, R.S. § 5264, related to use of materials from public lands.

Section 3, R.S. § 5266; acts June 19, 1934, ch. 652, § 601, 48 Stat. 1101; Mar. 6, 1943, ch. 10, § 6, 57 Stat. 12, related to Government priority in transmission of messages.

Section 4, R.S. § 5267; act June 19, 1934, ch. 652, § 601, 48 Stat. 1101, related to purchase of lines.

Section 5, R.S. § 5268; act June 19, 1934, ch. 652, § 601, 48 Stat. 1101, related to acceptance of obligations to be filed.

Section 6, R.S. § 5265; act June 19, 1934, ch. 652, § 601, 48 Stat. 1101, provided that rights were not transferable.



Omitted





Repealed

Section, R.S. § 5269; acts Feb. 27, 1877, ch. 69, § 1, 19 Stat. 252; June 19, 1934, ch. 652, § 601, 48 Stat. 1101, related to refusal to transmit dispatches.



Subsidized companies required to construct and operate lines

All railroad and telegraph companies to which the United States has granted any subsidy in lands or bonds or loan of credit for the construction of either railroad or telegraph lines, which, by the acts incorporating them, or by any act amendatory or supplementary thereto, are required to construct, maintain, or operate telegraph lines, and all companies engaged in operating said railroad or telegraph lines shall, by and through their own respective corporate officers and employees, maintain, and operate, for railroad, governmental, commercial, and all other purposes, telegraph lines, and exercise by themselves alone all the telegraph franchises conferred upon them and obligations assumed by them under the acts making the grants as aforesaid.



Equal facilities to connecting lines; discrimination in rates

Whenever any telegraph company which shall have accepted the provisions of sections 1 to 6 and 8 of this title, prior to the effective date of the repeal of such sections, shall extend its line to any station or office of a telegraph line belonging to any one of said railroad or telegraph companies, referred to in section 9 of this title, said telegraph company so extending its line shall have the right and said railroad or telegraph company shall allow the line of said telegraph company so extending its line to connect with the telegraph line of said railroad or telegraph company to which it is extended at the place where their lines may meet, for the prompt and convenient interchange of telegraph business between said companies; and such railroad and telegraph companies, referred to in section 9 of this title, shall so operate their respective telegraph lines as to afford equal facilities to all, without discrimination in favor of or against any person, company, or corporation whatever, and shall receive, deliver, and exchange business with connecting telegraph lines on equal terms, and affording equal facilities, and without discrimination for or against any one of such connecting lines; and such exchange of business shall be on terms just and equitable.

Powers of Federal Communications Commission

If any railroad or telegraph company referred to in section 9 of this title, or company operating such railroad or telegraph line shall refuse or fail, in whole or in part, to maintain, and operate a telegraph line as provided herein, for the use of the Government or the public, for commercial and other purposes, without discrimination, or shall refuse or fail to make or continue such arrangements for the interchange of business with any connecting telegraph company, then any person, company, corporation, or connecting telegraph company may apply for relief to the Federal Communications Commission, whose duty it shall thereupon be, under such rules and regulations as said commission may prescribe, to ascertain the facts, and determine and order what arrangement is proper to be made in the particular case, and the railroad or telegraph company concerned shall abide by and perform such order; and it shall be the duty of the Federal Communications Commission, when such determination and order are made, to notify the parties concerned, and, if necessary, enforce the same by writ of mandamus in the courts of the United States, in the name of the United States, at the relation of either of said communication commissioners. The commissioners may institute any inquiry, upon their own motion, in the same manner and to the same effect as though complaint had been made.



Interference with liens of United States

In order to secure and preserve to the United States the full value and benefit of its liens upon all the telegraph lines required to be constructed by and lawfully belonging to railroad and telegraph companies referred to in section 9 of this title, and to have the same possessed, used, and operated in conformity with sections 9 to 15 of this title, it is made the duty of the Attorney General of the United States, by proper proceedings, to prevent any unlawful interference with the rights and equities of the United States under all acts of Congress relating to such railroads and telegraph lines, and to have legally ascertained and finally adjudicated all alleged rights of all persons and corporations whatever claiming in any manner any control or interest of any kind in any telegraph lines or property, or exclusive rights-of-way upon the lands of said railroad companies, or any of them, and to have all contracts and provisions of contracts set aside and annulled which have been unlawfully and beyond their powers entered into by said railroad or telegraph companies, or any of them, with any other person, company, or corporation.



Violations; punishment; action for damages

Any officer or agent of said railroad or telegraph companies, or of any company operating the railroads and telegraph lines of said companies, who shall refuse or fail to operate the telegraph lines of said railroad or telegraph companies under his control, or which he is engaged in operating, in the manner herein directed, or who shall refuse or fail, in such operation and use, to afford and secure to the Government and the public equal facilities, or to secure to each of said connecting telegraph lines equal advantages and facilities in the interchange of business, as herein provided for, without any discrimination whatever for or adverse to the telegraph line of any or either of said connecting companies, or shall refuse to abide by or perform and carry out within a reasonable time the order or orders of the Federal Communications Commission, shall in every such case of refusal or failure be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, on conviction thereof, shall in every such case be fined in a sum of not exceeding $1,000, and may be imprisoned not less than six months; and in every such case of refusal or failure the party aggrieved may not only cause the officer or agent guilty thereof to be prosecuted under the provisions of this section, but may also bring an action for the damages sustained thereby against the company whose officer or agent may be guilty thereof, in the district court of the United States in any State or Territory in which any portion of the road or telegraph line of said company may be situated; and in case of suit process may be served upon any agent of the company found in such State or Territory, and such service shall be held by the court good and sufficient.



Contracts filed with Federal Communications Commission; reports; failure to make

It shall be the duty of each and every one of the aforesaid railroad and telegraph companies annually to report to the Federal Communications Commission, with reasonable fullness and certainty, the nature, extent, value, and condition of the telegraph lines and property then belonging to it, the gross earnings, and all expenses of maintenance, use, and operation thereof, and its relation and business with all connecting telegraph companies during the preceding year, at such time and in such manner as may be required by a system of reports which said commission shall prescribe; and if any of said railroad or telegraph companies shall refuse or fail to make such reports or any report as may be called for by said commission, or refuse to submit its books and records for inspection, such neglect or refusal shall operate as a forfeiture, in each case of such neglect or refusal, of a sum not less than $1,000 nor more than $5,000, to be recovered by the Attorney General of the United States, in the name and for the use and benefit of the United States; and it shall be the duty of the Federal Communications Commission to inform the Attorney General of all such cases of neglect or refusal, whose duty it shall be to proceed at once to judicially enforce the forfeitures herein before provided.



Reservation of power to alter, amend, or repeal act; power to fix rates and purchase lines

Nothing in sections 9 to 15 of this title shall be construed to affect or impair the right of Congress, at any time hereafter, to alter, amend, or repeal sections 1 to 6 and 8 of this title; and sections 9 to 15 of this title shall be subject to alteration, amendment, or repeal as, in the opinion of Congress, justice or the public welfare may require; and nothing herein contained shall be held to deny, exclude, or impair any right or remedy in the premises now or hereafter existing in the United States, or the authority of the Federal Communications Commission under the provisions of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended [47 U.S.C. 151 et seq.], to prescribe charges, classifications, regulations, and practices, including priorities, applicable to Government communications.

Washington-Alaska Military Cable and Telegraph System; money transfers; portion of receipts withheld

On and after May 20, 1926, such amount of money as may be authorized by the Secretary of the Army may be withheld temporarily from the receipts of the Washington-Alaska Military Cable and Telegraph System by the auditor of said system as a working balance from which to make payments of money transfers from and to Alaska and between points within Alaska, to be accounted for accordingly.



Repealed

Section, act May 26, 1900, ch. 586, 31 Stat. 206, related to prohibition of establishment of telegraph or cable lines by foreigners.





CHAPTER 2

SUBMARINE CABLES

Submarine cables; willful injury to; punishment

Any person who shall willfully and wrongfully break or injure, or attempt to break or injure, or who shall in any manner procure, counsel, aid, abet, or be accessory to such breaking or injury, or attempt to break or injure, a submarine cable in such manner as to interrupt or embarrass, in whole or in part, telegraphic communication, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, on conviction thereof, shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or to a fine not exceeding $5,000, or to both fine and imprisonment, at the discretion of the court.