House GOP to Reignite FCC Reform

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers are once again taking up reform of the Federal Communications Commission. Oregon Republican Rep. Greg Walden has slated a hearing Thursday, July 11, looking at proposals to modernize commission processes.

The chairman of the House Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology will have members review discussion drafts to streamline the FCC’s reporting obligations and hasten the agency’s decision-making while reducing regulatory burdens on the companies it regulates.

The witness list includes Stuart M. Benjamin of Duke Law School; Larry Downes, an Internet industry analyst and author of “The FCC’s Unstructured Role in Transaction Reviews;” former FCC commissioner Robert McDowell; Randolph J. May, president of the Free State Foundation; Richard Pierce of George Washington University Law School, and James Bradford Ramsey, general counsel of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissoiners.

The drafts are similar to bills that passed the House last Congress. In 2012, the GOP-controlled House approved the FCC Process Reform Act (H.R. 3309) and the FCC Consolidated Reporting Act (H.R. 3310). Taken together, the bills would consolidate the number of reports the agency needs to submit to lawmakers each year on the industries it regulates, as well as establish more shot clocks for proceedings along with publishing the full text of a rule for public comment before a commission vote.
NAB supported the measures, which, Walden said at the time, would “help our oversight responsibilities and help reduce costs.”

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai said at the time the bills would modernize the commission’s reporting obligations to reflect the convergence that has taken place in the communications marketplace and at the same time ensure that policymakers receive information critical to making data-driven decisions.

The effort went nowhere in the Democrat-controlled Senate.