- On CSPAN, Marsha Blackburn, the Chairman
of the House Telecom Subcommittee, noted the FCC is due for
"reauthorization," and that Congress might consider some changes in
the FCC's mission and structure later this year.
- Only 34 of 60 Field Agents remain
at the FCC offices still open around the country. While there has
been some new emphasis on identifying and citing pirates (who
rarely stop or even pay fines), relatively few NOIs and NALFs are
being seen in recent months.
- The new Chairman of the House
Telecom Subcommittee is asking for the FCC to restore the regional
offices closed by the Wheeler Commission. Marsha Blackburn says it
is important to have local offices that can handle calls and
- Chairman Pai said, among other
things, that no longer will Staff be permitted to make "substantive
edits" to matters before the Commission after "circulation." And
(EB) was told to stop making Consent Decrees on matters the
Commission has voted on, especially in relation to fines for
2/7/17 - The FCC Chairman,
Ajit Pai has acted on two changes to enhance transparency. He
accepted a suggestion from Commissioner Clyburn to issue a one-page
fact sheet to summarize proposed items on FCC meetings. Also,
agreed was to no longer allow Staff to make "substantive edits" to
any item after circulation but before consideration at a meeting.
The "New" FCC has moved quickly to rescind the rules on political
ad record keeping and due diligence that were passed in the last
days of the Wheeler Commission.
2/2/17 - FCC Chairman
Ajit Pai has started a program
to release more FCC documents to the public.
1/31/17 - The FCC has
eliminated the requirement that stations keep copied of all
correspondence from listeners in the station files.
1/23/17 - Ajit Pai
has been named as the new Chair of the FCC by President Trump.
With a new Sheriff in town, there are
changes coming, almost everyone agrees.
Tom Wheeler announced today he was to step down entirely as an
FCC Commissioner on January 20th after three years in the top spot
at the agency. Up in the air: Jessica Rosenworcel. She lost her
seat when the Senate adjourned without re-confirming her. Now, it
is up to the incoming Administration whether to re-submit her name
to the Senate.
12/10/16 - A
political game of brinksmanship has been set up as the year ends.
Chairman Tom Wheeler, in an unusual move, still has not expressed
his intentions for after President Trump is in office. This has
basically ended Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel's time on the FCC
- and sets up a battle in the Senate for how the FCC is to be
"rebuilt." Only five weeks find out!
As the Wheeler Commission's time dwindles, Congress last week made
sure there will not be any major (read: Controversial) changes in
the next two months. HR 5982 - The Midnight Rules Relief Act -
would allow incoming governments to drop any Rules passed in the
final 60 days of Congress. Seeing no way out, Wheeler pulled four
items off the agenda this past week.
11/22/16 - With the election of
Donald Trump, the makeup of the FCC will change. Specifically
Chairman Tom Wheeler must step down as the new President names a
new Chairman. However, as of this date, Wheeler has not indicated
if he will, as is usual, retire from the FCC and allow Jessica
Ronsenworcel to be re-confirmed for her seat.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has passed HR 5982 - The
Midnight Rules Relief Act - to block rules pushed through in the
last 60 days of a Congress. While the Senate has not yet acted,
Chairman Wheeler pulled for controver-sial items from the FCC
agenda last week.
6/24/16 - Hearings are now
scheduled for July 12th in the continuing effort to get the FCC to
respond to Congress' concerns.
5/24/16 - For the past couple
of years, the goal of Rep Greg Walden (R-OR) has been to get the
FCC to be more open to the broadcast community - and specifically
to publish their actions and resolve difficult issues in a timely
manner. The FCC claims to be doing that - although more than a few
"controversial" issues have taken more than a decade to see
H.R. 2589 just passed the House of Represent-atives. Its future
in the Senate is not assured.
In hearings today, the FCC Chairman indicated that 20% of
Enforcement Bureau activities are currently dealing with pirate
operations. Questions also targeted the continued plague of
robo-calls, "opening set-top cable boxes" so users could buy them,
and the Spectrum Auction, scheduled for next week.
Could the FCC be
disbanded? While some might wish for that, Senator John Thune (R-SD) has
noted that the FCC is the oldest independent agency agency in the
government, last "authorized" 25 years ago. Thune's current suggestion
is to reauthorize the FCC for two years - and then see how the political
winds blow. Say, that sounds like a broadcasters' wish: The FCC needs to
be re-authorized by Congress!
Do you think Congress will send the FCC a renewal form asking if
they have violated any of the Rules since their last renewal?
<gggg> It might spark some happy dreams - or a long fight with
another section of Congress (Walden's sub-committee is still out
there, asking questions, too!)
The new FCC Contesting Rules have gone into effect.
11/18/15 - Yet more hearings, and promised by the
FCC to be more open. The House has passed several Bills to push
that, including the
"FCC Process Reform Act" - H.B. 2583. The Senate killed such a
Bill last year.
7/8/15 - The
series of hearings (see the discussion on Field Office closings -
above) this year will culminate with a July 14th hearing. The House
Subcommittee may be ready to unveil the legislation it plans to
submit in order to reform the FCC.
5/4/15 - FCC
Chairman Wheeler has been touting that the FCC has been "More
transparent than ever, more efficient, and more engaged with the
public." Wheeler pointed to 1500 dormant dockets and 6000 open EB
cases that have been closed. The House Committee headed by Rep.
Walden (R-OR) is not so sure about that. His committee continues to
press the FCC for actions that stations have been asking for.
Appropriations subcommittee chair Rep. Ander Crenshaw. wants the
FCC to stop making decisions based on politics. "We believe the FCC
should do less with less," led Crenshaw's suggest that the House
might trim the FCC's budget to have the refocus more fully on its
mission rather than Net Neutrality or remodeling or moving.
On the other hand,
Chairman Wheeler points out that the FCC currently "makes" money
for the government and is also in process of cutting expenses for
things he does not favor, like many of the field offices.
During the hearing, support was heard for putting Public Files
online. Oddly, most smaller companies are opposed, mostly
based on the time/effort to do it, but more than a few wondering
why the FCC demands transparency from all the stations, but they
cannot be bothered to communicate outward.
On another front,
Wheeler did announce a task force to deal with "legitimate process
concerns," stating that fewer delegated actions have been taken
than in past years.
As hearings continue, the FCC Chairman continues to receive fire
for the lack of transparency, according to House subcommittee
Chairman Greg Walden. Walden used sports metaphors to suggest
Wheeler was more interested in scoring points than running the FCC
in an efficient, open manner. Walden
The Chairman of the FCC, Tom Wheeler received a rather
confrontational welcome in a series of Congressional hearings this
week. At the same time, there was word that the FCC is
investigating whether there was undue pressure on Wheeler in the
"Net Neutrality" proceeding.
The House Telecom
subcommittee chairman wants to reauthorize the FCC ... with a few
The House - by 411 to 0 - has passed a bill to compact eight
reports by the FCC to the House Energy and Commerce Committee into
one biennial report.
The NAB is supporting a measure by Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) to
require transparency from the FCC.
Several Congressmen and Senators have expressed unhappiness with
the information and response they have gotten from the FCC, calling