Skip to main content

Editorial: A Working Congress?

We don't know if it is something in the water or the air, but there were more signs last week that Congress can actually get some things done. The FCC and broadcasters, which frequently have not been reading from the same playbook, also were on the same page.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler praised the National Association of Broadcasters by name; NAB in turn thanked Wheeler, and Wheeler and House Republicans were trading compliments. We scanned skies for pigs flying, but didn’t see any.

The reason for all that comity was that Wheeler, who is known for staking out his ground and sticking there, pivoted away from closing the majority of FCC regional offices. Wheeler had pitched the plan to broadcasters very pu sight hearing. He has now signaled there is a way to get cost efficiencies while keeping most of the offices open.

Broadcasters were concerned that the FCC’s spectrum interference monitoring might be compromised at just the wrong time, when the FCC is going to be repacking TV stations and wireless operators cheek by jowl in new tighter quarters for broadcasters.

House Republicans had added their concerns, also very publicly, and the chairman apparently heard them and responded.

At about the same time, the House was passing bipartisan legislation that makes permanent the moratorium on state and local Internet taxes, giving the National Cable & Telecommunications Association a victory.

Of course, the Senate will have to follow suit with its version of the bill. But even that seemed possible last week—a throwback to the times when having opposing political positions did not mean trading personal attacks and treating compromise as a dirty word.

Then there was the Dotcom Act, which establishes Congress’ role in the U.S. government handoff of Internet domain naming to a multistakeholder model. Republicans and Democrats who had been beating each other up on the issue were talking up bipartisanship and praising each other.

The only way for Congress, the American people in general and our communications peeps in particular to work is to find common ground and hold it. Keep it up.