O’Rielly: Pro-Growth, Pro-Innovation Agenda on FCC Horizon

Commissioner lays out suggested changes during Free State Foundation luncheon
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WASHINGTON—With the seats at the Federal Communications Commission poised to flip to a Republican majority in 2017, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly laid clear his suggestions to create a pro-growth, pro-innovation FCC “firmly grounded in free-market principles,” he said.

In a speech before the Free State Foundation earlier this month, O’Rielly said that 2017 will charter in new leadership that will set a new course in communications policy — an opportunity that arrived not a moment too soon, he added.

“The last few years have been marked by a comprehensive effort to exert full control over every detail of anything even arguably within the agency’s grasp, while also expanding our reach into every nook and cranny of the vast internet economy,” O’Rielly said.

Both O’Rielly and fellow Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai have balked at what O’Rielly called the commission’s “disruptive legislation.” Instead, technology and market forces should drive innovation in the marketplace. “There is plenty of work for us all to start next year, with arguably lots of room for improvement at every level,” he said.

His applauded President-elect Trump’s call for the elimination of two regulations for every new one created.

Among the broad changes O’Rielly outlined in his speech included a move to undo certain policies; the clearing away of regulatory underbrush; the move to develop a pro-growth, pro-innovation agenda; and the overhauling the older commission processes.

O’Rielly called for the updating of existing media ownership rules, which he called “relics of the nascent media world of a bygone era,” and he reiterated his call for the elimination for broadcasters to keep paper correspondence files.

He also vowed that the commission would continue to protect legal broadcast licenses. “This was one of the first missions assigned to the commission at its creation, and still ranks among our primary responsibilities,” he said. “While we have generally done a good job of safeguarding spectrum usage rights, for too long the commission has turned a blind eye to the interlopers stealing broadcast spectrum and threatening the viability of legitimate broadcasters in many of the largest American markets.”

The new commission should have ample opportunity to showcase its creativity and foresight by developing and executing a strong pro-growth, pro-innovation agenda firmly grounded in free market principles, he said, and will attempt to make substantial progress toward improving fairness and transparency.

Next year offers long-awaited-for opportunities, O’Rielly said. “Quite frankly, I pushed for [some smaller] reforms, recognizing the limitations of being in the minority, he said. “I suspect there will be greater opportunity to think about bigger reforms and deregulatory efforts — done in a thorough way — in the next commission.”

This story first appeared on TV Technology's sister publication, Radio World.