House Republicans want to reform the FCC


The Senate Commerce Committee put its plans to hold a hearing on reforming the FCC on hold, but key members of the House Commerce Committee aren’t waiting around. Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Joe Barton (R-TX) and Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet Ranking Member Cliff Stearns have a proposed bill ready for consideration.

Their major proposal is for the FCC to have rule changes in mind and published before asking for public comment. After that, there would be 30 days for comment, 30 more days for reply comments. Then there’d be 30 days for the commissioners to consider and vote on a draft, deadlines set for action, and 30 days after final action for the results to be published.

The bill assumes that the only cause for creating a regulation is a market failure, and says that the FCC should have accumulated statistics that form an underpinning for its actions, and that all of these statistics should be made available to the public.

Any bills that are late coming out of the FCC would be identified to leaders in the Commerce Committee of both houses of Congress, explaing the delay, and if being held up on circulation, identifying the commissioners who have failed to vote.

RBR/TVBR observation: Is it just us, or is this bill extremely naïve? Given the vast complexities of many of the issues decided at the FCC, we believe there are few FCC-regulated industries that would be happy with leaving the FCC to its own devices drafting rules for any issue, without having a chance to guide and influence the process from the get-go.

Broadcasters, telcos, satellite operators, cable operators, what have you, would like to make sure the FCC is proceeding along lines that make business as well as technical and public interest sense, and that means the process has to be kept open from the beginning.

Getting 30 days to digest a completed rulemaking AND respond? Impossible.