Washington

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 5/30/2012 06:40:26 PM Eastern

The
House Wednesday approved by voice vote the Federal Communications Commission
Consolidated Reporting Act of 2012 (HR 3310).

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outmoded regs and 24 outdated data collections.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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