McDowell reiterates call for FCC reform


Robert McDowell underscored the positive efforts Acting Chairman Michael Copps has already made at the FCC in an address to the FCC Bar Association, giving him an eleven on a scale of one to ten in that regard. He also acknowledged the wisdom of waiting for a permanent chair before launching into an FCC makeover. That said, he did feel justified in launching into a discussion of such a makeover.

McDowell noted the obvious need to maintain laser focus on DTV whether the deadline moves to June or remains in February. But he also turned his mind to other matters. For one thing, he said it is time to start recruiting and grooming replacements for key FCC career employees who are nearing retirement age. He would like to establish regular town hall meetings to get public input on how the FCC is organized and run.

He also advocates an overhaul of the fee collecting system. Noting that the agency actually makes money for taxpayers, he said the methodology for collecting the cash on which the agency runs may be flawed. He suggested studies to make sure all incumbents are paying their fair share in a competitive-neutral way, and to make sure the FCC isn’t over-collecting, forcing licensees to pass fees along to the public unnecessarily.

He also suggested an ethics audit of FCC officials to make sure the Commission is run “to the highest standards of best practices.”

All of these endeavors would be used to establish a new strategic plan for the FCC.