Harold Furchtgott-Roth may be a lame duck commissioner now that he's announced plans to step down, but he's keeping up his vocal campaign to eradicate what he sees as abuses of the FCC's power over telecommunications companies.
More needs to be done to make sure the agency's enforcement processes are clearly spelled out, foster efficient regulation and are fair, he told the Practicing Law Institute Thursday. Many rules on the books should be dropped either because they are rarely or inconsistently enforced or because they are simply illegitimate.
For instance, he attacked the FCC's policy of "red flagging" radio mergers resulting in heavy concentration of ad revenue in a market. Flagged deals can be held up by the agency indefinitely and there are no specific guidelines for resolving the FCC concerns. "They are in this Kafka-esque situation where they know they have something before the commission but they don't know why," Furchtgott-Roth said.
He said the agency's enforcement policies have become more consistent, however, since former chairman William Kennard created an independent enforcement bureau. And he's optimistic that the scheduled 2002 review of all FCC regulations will accomplish the much-needed next step of eliminating some. "It's better to enforce a few laws completely and fairly than many laws haphazardly," he said.
- Bill McConnell