House Approves FCC Reform Bill
Would require FCC to conduct biennial survey of the state of competition in the marketplace that it publishes online and submits to Congress
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 5/30/2012 6:40:26 PM
That is the broadcaster and cable-backed bill that would, among other things, require the FCC to conduct a biennial survey of the state of competition in the marketplace that it publishes online and submits to Congress.
The FCC already conducts a quadrennial (originally biennial) reg review. But unlike that process, in this review, the FCC would be required to take into account competition from the Internet.
The bill, which was backed by Reps. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and House Communications Subcommittee Chair Greg Walden (R-Ore.), would consolidate eight separate congressionally mandated reports into that single report.
The bill passed after a House floor debate in which Walden pointed out current reporting requirements include assessing the state of telegraph competition. "This isn't just unhelpful," he said, it is a waste of taxpayer funds." Rep. Scalise lifted up a stack of reports as a visual aide, saying they were industry-specific rather than looking at the entire marketplace.
Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), who backs the bill, said she supported the bill's effort to reduce reporting burdens and to have the FCC look more comprehensively at the marketplace, particularly with the addition of an amendment that insures the FCC can look at all forms of competition when assessing the marketplace. She praised Walden and committee Republicans for working with Democrats to improve the bill throughout the markup process. Matsui also took the opportunity to point out the efforts the FCC under Chairman Julius Genachowski has already taken, including removing over 200 outmoded regs and 24 outdated data collections.
Matsui also used her floor time to praise the FCC's reform of the Universal Service Fund, and put in a plug for Congress' role in helping identify spectrum to free up for wireless broadband.
The bipartisan bill, which was opposed by some House Democrats along with companion FCC reform bill HR 3309, the latter which passed the House in March, must still pass a Democratic-controlled Senate. A version of HR 3310 (S.1780) has been introduced there already by Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.).
"The FCC has failed to meet required congressional reporting deadlines to provide clarity on competition in the various communication marketplaces," said Heller in a statement Wednesday. "A bill streamlining these reports would provide Congress with the necessary information to provide proper oversight. I hope my Senate colleagues see the benefit of this bipartisan measure that passed the House of Representatives today and take action on this legislation."
"We applaud U.S. House approval of H.R. 3310 and commend Rep. Scalise for his leadership of this important FCC reform legislation," said the National Cable & Telecommunications Association in a statement. "By reducing the FCC's non-essential Congressional reporting requirements, the Commission will be able to impose a significantly smaller burden on a vibrant and competitive telecommunications marketplace that is focused on meeting consumer demand for the next big thing."
CTIA: The Wireless Association added its applause.
"CTIA congratulates Congressman Scalise for moving the FCC Consolidated Reporting Act through the House with broad, bipartisan support," said Association President Steve Largent. "This is a common sense bill and we hope the Senate will approve it soon. In a similar vein, we urge the FCC to be mindful of the need to further streamline its reporting processes, with the objective of substantially reducing the volume of material that carriers need to file."
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