House Bills Aim to Reform FCC

Published March 23, 2012

Two bills designed to curtail regulatory overreach by the Federal Communications Commission await debate in Congress. The Federal Communications Commission Consolidated Reporting Act of 2011 (HR 3310) was introduced by Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) and is the companion to HR 3309, a bill introduced by Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) in November 2011.

The bill passed the House by a 247-174 vote on March 27, and was amended to include the FCC FOIA Amendment, authored by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL). The amendmentt requires the FCC to implement new policies and practices to promote greater public disclosure of how the agency handles Freedom of Information Act requests.

“The bills clarify and contain the FCC’s role as administrator of spectrum resources and as chief regulator of the U.S. telecommunications and broadcast industry,” said Steven Titch, policy analyst for telecommunications at the Reason Foundation, a California-based public policy research institute.

John Stephenson, director of the Communications and Technology Task Force at the American Legislative Exchange Council, has neither endorsed nor opposed the bills, but he commends any effort to reform regulatory agencies.

“In general, I think, efforts to reform government agencies, particularly regulatory agencies, to make them more efficient and more responsive, among other things, is generally a good thing,” Stephenson said.

“As for spectrum, 3309 will require the FCC to hold open auctions, granting neither favor nor disfavor to applicants according to their preferred business plans,” said Titch. “H.R. 3309 would also require the FCC to engage in a more objective evaluation of their proposed regulations, weighing costs against benefits, identifying specific harms being addressed, and considering the potential for unintended consequences,” he said.

“In light of the current commission’s taste for regulatory adventurism, its overbroad reading of its congressional mandate, and its use of ideology as a sole measuring stick, legislation like this would create a healthy check on its penchant for excess,” Titch said.

Internet Info

“House Bill 3309,” Rep. Greg Walden, November 2011:

“House Bill 3310,” Rep. Steve Scalise, November 2011: