GOP Lawmakers Urge FCC Regulatory Freeze

WASHINGTON—Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler urging him to freeze the regulatory process during the presidential transition and focus on the TV spectrum incentive auction, now in its third phase.

“The most important challenge for the commission over the next 10 weeks is to ensure a successful broadcast incentive auction, the lawmakers wrote The successful completion of the auction will provide needed spectrum to meet Americans wireless broadband needs and ensure that Americans continue to enjoy the local news and national programming broadcasters provide. As Rep. Henry Waxman and Sen. Jay Rockefeller noted during the 2008 Presidential transition, it would be counterproductive for the FCC to consider complex and controversial items that the new Congress and new Administration will have an interest in reviewing.

“We strongly urge you to concentrate the commission’s attention and resources only on matters that require action under the law and efforts to foster the success of the broadcast incentive auction.”

It is unclear where a regulatory freeze would leave broadcasters’ petition to adopt ATSC 3.0 as a transmission standard. The FCC put the petition out for comment in April. Broadcasters responded in June with a request for a rulemaking by this past Oct. 1. That date passed with no new information from the commission. Meanwhile, in July, Korea adopted an ATSC 3.0 framework for broadcast TV transmission. The full suite of ATSC 3.0 standards are expected to be completed next spring, according to Jerry Whitaker, vice president for Standards Development at the Advanced Television Systems Committee.