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Cable, Telcos Talk Up FCC Reform

During Thursday's FCC process reform hearing in the House
Communications Subcommittee, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) had entered into the
record a raft of letters the committee had received from industry players in
support of FCC reforms, obtained by B&C.

The following is a sampling of the reaction, which ranged
from support of some of the specifics of the proposed bills -- there are two --
to general applause for tackling the issue of regulatory reform.

Peter Davidson, Verizon senior VP of federal government
relations, offered that company's support for two of the proposals most
criticized by Democrats, while suggesting it is in furtherance of Democratic
President Obama's reforms. "Taking a page from President Obama's regulatory
reform efforts, the FCC process reform Act legislation asks the FCC to conduct
a cost-benefit analysis as part of its rulemaking process, which would give the
FCC important tools for benchmarking proposed regulations in comparison to
other alternatives," he said. "It also would require the FCC to
narrowly tailor conditions imposed in license transfers, which is another 'good
government' reform that will help facilitate innovation and investment in the
communications sector.

Tim McKone, AT&T executive VP of federal relations, also
expressed support for the bills.

"We welcome all efforts to improve the transparency,
decision making and efficiency of regulatory agencies," he said. "To
that end, the Federal Communications Commission reforms proposed by Chairmen
Fred Upton and Greg Walden are common sense improvements, with consumers
ultimately reaping the benefits of a modernized agency."

Those reforms include putting shot clocks on FCC decisions,
requiring cost-benefit analysis when adding or revising rules, and limiting
merger conditions to those addressing merger-specific harms that can't be
addressed by the marketplace in a reasonable time frame.

David Cohen, Comcast's top man in Washington (though based
in Philadelphia), did not endorse any specific proposals, but suggested he
liked the direction the discussion drafts were headed in.

"At Comcast we have long believed, given the changing
marketplace dynamics and implications of FCC decisions, that certain reforms of
FCC processes and procedures are appropriate," he said. "We applaud
Chairman Walden for his efforts to offer a discussion draft, which represents
an important next step towards modifying regulatory reforms that have been long
discussed by many different Commissions regardless of party or leadership. As
we have throughout this process, we look forward to continuing to working with
the Chairman, members of the Committee, and the Administration to evaluate and
refine the proposed legislation to ensure that a suitable set of reforms are
set forth."