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FCC Revamps Hearing Process

Exterior of the FCC building in Washington, D.C.
(Image credit: FCC)

The FCC is moving away from administrative hearings to a more document-heavy approach to testimony and evidence when called for.

That came in a report and order (R&O) voted Friday (Sept. 11) and released Monday (Sept. 14) that codifies the use of a written hearing process.

In the past, such hearings--program carriage disputes have periodically been designated for hearing--have featured live testimony before an administrative law judge (the FCC has only one of those), cross examination and a decision that is only a recommendation to the commission.

The FCC has concluded that such trial-type hearings "impose significant burdens and delays on both applicants and the agency that may not be necessary."

The R&O expands the use of written testimony and evidence in lieu of the live witnesses and cross-examination; authorizes FCC staff to supervise the development of the written record when the FCC is presiding at a hearing; and dispenses with an initial opinion and goes straight to a final recommendation when that is possible.

The FCC said that approach will allow it to tailor the proceedings to each hearing.

NCTA-the Internet & Television Association had said there could be some times when a live hearing is more appropriate "depending on the subject matter or circumstances."