House Works to Limit the FCC - The UpStream

House Works to Limit the FCC

posted Sunday Apr 1, 2012 by Scott Ertz

House Works to Limit the FCC

The FCC has been working very hard to expand their reach over the past few years. They tried to declare themselves Lord of the Internet, they single-handedly shut down the AT&T/T-Mobile merger and most recently wasted billions in private funding by stopping LightSquared's LTE network.

Most of the country is more than a little concerned about the FCC and their self-proclaimed powers over others. Included in that list are members of the US House of Representatives. Currently, the House has been working on a bill, the FCC Process Reform Act of 2012, to limit the powers of the FCC. This bill would essentially create oversight for the agency, which has never existed before.

How would this bill make the world a better place? Hit the break to find out.

According to the summary, any FCC conditions would have to be "narrowly tailored to remedy a harm arising as a direct result of the specific transfer or transaction, and within the FCC's jurisdiction apart from its authority to review the transaction." They would also be required to submit cost-benefit analyses before issuing rulings that could have major economic impact, such as the LightSquared.

While people who believe in liberty think this is a great idea, others do not. The Obama White House has said,

{These limits} would harm the Federal Government's ability to promote the most effective competitive outcome in any given transaction involving communications firms.

Obviously this is the opposite of what this bill is intended to do and the outcome it will produce. Henry Waxman (D-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), and John Dingell (D-MI), three dissenters in the House, argue that,

HR 3309 fundamentally alters the FCC's role. The agency could no longer insist on conditions that protect the public interest unless it could demonstrate that it could impose such conditions under other statutory authority. This would put in jeopardy a broad range of conditions in many mergers. HR 3309 could also have a paradoxical result. It could force the FCC to deny mergers and transactions that otherwise could have been granted if the parties were able to commit voluntarily to certain conditions.

After the last year, it is clear that the FCC's role needs to be altered, and this is a good attempt at fixing it. Maybe, with some oversight into an organization that has none, we can prevent situations disasters where the FCC changes their mind and it costs a company billions of dollars before the legal fees.

What do you think? Is the FCC broken? Can it be fixed with this legislation? Have you read the full bill? Let us know in the comments.


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