A watchdog’s FCC primer


FCCPublic interest group Common Cause has made a home for former Democratic FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, and has its own definite opinions about many of the issues before the Commission. With two new commissioners likely coming aboard sooner rather than later, it issued its take in issues to watch.

The nominees: CC believes it’s possible that certain sectors of the business world may have an objection to nominee for chairman Tom Wheeler, particularly over the E-rate. Former Representatives Tom Tauke and Cliff Stearns are cited as individuals now in the private sector who might try to drum up opposition to Wheeler.

Political advertising disclosure: CC believes that the FCC has the power to require identification of political advertising sponsors. It says a petition for rulemaking is currently pending at the Commission and says it will push for disclosure requirements.

Fighting media monopolies: The aforementioned Copps was a foe of media consolidation, and CC says so was the candidate Barack Obama. It decried the lack of any movement under Obama to curb consolidation, and said it would be pushing for such measures, beginning with – appropriately enough – accurate measurement of the true state of media consolidation at this time “to assess the impact of any consolidation proposals.”

Protecting the Free and Open Internet: CC will work to ensure network neutrality and is following Verizon v. FCC in the District Circuit Court.

Connecting all Americans: CC will be monitoring things like “carrier of last resort,” the universal service fund and lifeline to make sure all Americans are wired in.

CC concludes, “The challenge today for our nation’s policy makers is whether they will successfully manage a fast-changing media landscape.  Without wise stewardship to oversee these changes, not only could American consumers be left in the dust, but also the health of our democracy, which depends on an informed and engaged electorate and the free flow of information, could be placed at risk.”