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Bill Would Allow FCC Commissioners to Chat

WASHINGTON: Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) introduced legislation this week that would allow more than two commissioners to meet other than at an agenda meeting, under certain conditions. There must be at least one of the five commissioners from each political party in the room, and the topic of the meeting must be disclosed to the public.

The commissioners, particularly Democrat Michael Copps, have been asking for greater access to one another for some time. Current rules prevent more than two commissioners from meeting privately. Stupak’s bill, H.R. 4167, would require renewal after five years.

Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of consumer lobby Public Knowledge welcomed the bill.

“This bill... would allow for strict conditions under which commissioners could discuss important matters outside of the Kabuki theatre of commission agenda meetings. Under this bill, the presidentially appointed commissioners could have a greater say in crucial decisions.

“At the same time, we want to make certain this process is not abused. We trust that the follow-up reports of those meetings, as required in the bill, will contain sufficient detail to inform the public of what transpired so that policymaking will be more transparent than under the current system, rather than less.”