House Communications Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) is reportedly ready to mark up his bill to overhaul procedures at the FCC, and NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith is cheering the effort on. He said that an effort to make the FCC “faster and better” is a good thing.
A report in Hillicon Valley suggests that the bill may get attention of the full Energy and Commerce Committee as early as Tuesday 2/7/12. As of midday Friday 2/3/12, there was no announcement of any addition to the schedule.
Hillicon Valley reported that cable organization NCTA also supports the legislation.
It is generally opposed by members of the Democratic Party, who feel it is merely an attempt to rein in the FCC’s ability to effectively regulate the industries over which it has responsibility. It has been suggested that the bill is more in reaction to decisions made by the Commission under a Democratic administration than it is about problems inherent to the FCC’s inner workings.
However, Republicans believe that too much of what happens at the FCC is shrouded in secrecy, and they further believe the FCC is too willing to saddle industries with onerous regulation. Further, when it comes to M&A review within the FCC’s purview, it is too willing to delay a decision and too willing to add contingencies that it could not enforce on a general basis for all in the same business category.
There are actually two bills on the table: H.R. 3309, the Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act of 2011, and H.R. 3310, the Federal Communications Commission Consolidated Reporting Act of 2011.
Smith said, “NAB supports legislative efforts by Chairmen Upton and Walden designed to modernize and reform FCC decision-making. Given the breakneck speed under which broadcasters and other media companies are reshaping the telecommunications landscape, it is entirely appropriate for Congress to update the rulemaking process and find ways to make it work faster and better. NAB respects the leadership of Chairman Genachowski, and we stand ready to help him and FCC staff implement changes resulting from legislation that brings greater clarity and transparency for licensees dealing with the FCC.”