Another bill introduced to rein in FCC


Republicans in the House chipped away at a bill throughout 2011 that was aimed at increasing transparency at the FCC but in the end would limit agency’s ability to create regulations. Now Maxine Waters (D-CA) is introducing a bill aimed at increasing transparency at the FCC but in the end would limit the agency’s ability to approve mergers.

There is nothing sneaky about the ultimate goal of the Waters bill. According to a Hillicon Valley report, she is calling the bill the MERGER Act – nothing subtle about that acronym. And acronym it is. It stands for Merging Entities Regulatory Guidance and Ethical Reform.

Waters believes that the comment process at the FCC needs to be improved and made more transparent, something that would fly just fine on the Republican side if the aisle. However, she stated that the Republican intent was to damage the FCC’s ability to act in order to forward a deregulatory agenda.

She is more particularly worked up about mergers, however. In particular, she was one of the most vocal opponents of the Comcast/NBCU merger, and she couldn’t help but notice that Meredith Baker went from being one of the FCC commissioners charged with reviewing and approving the merger to an executive at Comcast.

Under terms of her bill, any FCC official involved in reviewing a case involving a particular company would have to wait at least a year before accepting employment from that company. For Baker, the gulf was only about four months.

The Republican measure was due for a full Energy and Commerce Committee vote 11/29/11, but the clock ran out on the session and as yet a new date for a vote has not been announced.