House panel looking at FCC reform bill


The House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet has hosted the sitting FCC Commissioners in its effort to reform the way the FCC does business. Now it has a draft known as “Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act of 2011” to consider.

The committee, under the gavel of Greg Walden (R-OR), will meet Wednesday at 10:30 AM. Although no current commissioners are on the witness list, there is one former commissioner: Republican Kathleen Abernathy will be one of those providing testimony.

The bill would do a number of things to amend FCC procedure. It would:

* require the FCC to publish a final version of any proposed rule change for public comment

* make sure all commissioners have time to adequately study any matter that comes before them for a vote

* provide for private meetings of three or more commissioners

* allow bipartisan majorities of commissioners to initiate proceedings

* provide for publication of certain statistical reports and ex parte communications

* provide for listing of all pending matters 60 days old or older

* establish deadlines for FCC decisions

* provide Committee with biannual report card on FCC effectiveness

* require that transaction conditions  be narrowly tailored and only include items that could be adopted as a similar rule

* require a biannual competitive media marketplace study every odd-numbered year

A draft of the bill is available here.

The witnesses at the hearing will include:

* The Hon. John Sununu, Honorary Co-Chair, Broadband for America
* Kathleen Abernathy, Chief Legal Officer and Executive Vice President, Frontier Communications
* Mark Cooper, Research Director, Consumer Federation of America
* Ronald Levin, William R. Orthwein Distinguished Professor of Law, Washington University School of Law
* Randolph J. May, President, Free State Foundation
* Brad Ramsay, National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners