FCC Tees Up More Regulation Whacking for February Meeting

The FCC has signaled that there will be a half-dozen items for the Feb. 22 public meeting, including three more whacks at regulatory "weeds" (the FCC circulates a tentative agenda three weeks before the meeting, and a final agenda--subject to change, still, actually--a week before).

The items are: 1) proposed new guidelines to "improve" the process of promoting new tech and services; 2) an order resolving issues in its ongoing funding to advanced communications through Universal Service Fund subsidies; 3) a proposed rulemaking seeking comment on rules for high-band spectrum (above 95Ghz); 4) a proposal to eliminate the filing of midterm EEO reports by TV and radio broadcasters--while maintaining the mid-term EEO review; 5) an order eliminating the requirement that cable and broadcast stations maintain paper copies of FCC rules (they must still be familiar with those rules, to not copy is not an excuse); 6) and eliminating various rules for pay phones, given that they are a dying breed of communications device.

Related: FCC Grants More Incentive Auction Spectrum Licenses

Eliminating the paper copies of FCC rules requirement was the first in what has become an ongoing series of proposals to clear out the regulatory underbrush and reduce what is billed as unnecessary paperwork.

In blogging about the agenda, which has become a regular ritual, FCC chairman Ajit Pai wrote that the support to eliminate the rules paperwork was unanimous.

He also explained that while the FCC would continue its midterm (after four years of an eight-year broadcast license term) review of station's EEO practices, he was proposing the elimination of the requirement to also submit a form with EEO information meant to aid that review. He said given that all but one piece of information now on the form is available in the online public files--he did not say which piece was not--"it doesn’t make much sense to require someone to file what you can already access online."

An FCC spokesperson was checking at press time on what that one piece of information was, though if the idea is to save paper, one solution would be to add that piece to the online public file requirement.

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.