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FCC's Pai Proposes to Expand 'Written' Hearings

FCC chair Ajit Pai has circulated two items he said will "update and streamline" FCC processes, including expanding hearings where there is nothing to hear, as it were.

That proposal would expand the FCC's use of "written hearings," where there is no live testimony. "[B]y streamlining our hearing rules, we can resolve disputes more quickly, which will benefit the private sector as well as the Commission," the chairman said.

The FCC occasionally holds field hearings on issues, and it sometimes designates complaints or challenges or suspect conduct to its Administrative Law Judge, as it did with the Sinclair/Tribune merger and various carriage and access complaints through the years. Mergers designated for hearing usually streamline themselves because the parties withdraw the proposal, knowing a hearing designation is essentially an FCC "no."

A second Pai proposal would transition the FCC's Universal Licensing System from paper to digital.

Chairman Pai said the proposals had been presented to his colleagues, but they had not appeared on the FCC's online list of circulated items at press time. "I hope that my colleagues will join me in supporting these good-government initiatives," he said.