FCC Not Bound By Trump Regulatory Fiats

WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald Trump has pledged to put a hold on federal regulations once he gets into the Oval Office, but the FCC is shielded from that initial presidential proclamation.

As part of his first plan for his first 100 days, the president-elect has said he will impose a moratorium on new federal regulations. Then, when new regulations are imposed, he says for every one added two should be eliminated.

While that sounds more like campaign rhetoric than a workable plan, he has included it on his transition website as one of the things he wants to do.

But as an independent agency, the FCC is not subject to executive orders or presidential pronouncements.

For example, when President Obama issued executive orders about agencies doing cost-benefit analyses of new regulations, the FCC was exempted from that directive.

But the president can also make his wishes felt in no uncertain terms. After Obama came out publicly urging the FCC to reclassify Internet-service providers under Title II of the Communications Act, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler pivoted to that position.

Certainly, Trump can appoint an FCC chairman who agrees less regulation is better. That would be the case with either Republican commissioner Ajit Pai, expected to be interim chairman at least (and maybe stay on permanently) after Trump takes over on Jan. 20, or Jeffrey Eisenach of the American Enterprise Institute and George Mason University, another likely pick.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.