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FCC's Wheeler Gets Pushback on Continued Agenda Push

As the FCC prepares to vote on its business data services (BDS) revamp proposal, which has drawn pushback from Hill Republicans as well as cable ISPs, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler is getting some pushback himself for not ramping down his regulatory agenda in the face of the recent election.

The chairman of the House Communications Subcommittee, Greg Walden (R-Ore.), who could be the chairman of the full committee after new assignments are voted on in the next couple of weeks, told Politico that the FCC needs to cool its jets. "The notion of instituting new rules and regulations, cramming stuff out the door, is unnecessary, unwanted and unfair—and needs to cease and desist," Walden told the Hill news outlet.

In a blog post on Forbes, Fred Campbell, director of TechKnowledge and no fan of Wheeler's regulatory agenda, said "rather than focus on a smooth transition, Wheeler intends to keep pushing his partisan agenda to futility and beyond," citing the BDS vote among other things.

"Neither of the Republican commissioners have supported this [BDS revamp] idea and there is no reason to believe they’ll vote in favor of it now," he said, which is almost certainly the case.

Campbell pointed out that Wheeler has acknowledged that "elections have consequences." But one of those, apparently, is to light a fire under those still holding the levers, and in this case with a signal from the current President that he is not striking the flag just yet. 

President Barack Obama signaled in a press conference last week that he was going to continue to push for his agenda as long as he is in the White House—Wheeler's term as chairman will also be up when the new administration takes over—so arguably Wheeler has marching orders of a sort, though the FCC is an independent agency.

The FCC circulated its agenda for the Nov. 17 public meeting two days after the election, and the BDS item, as well as one boosting the number of hours of video described programming cable and broadcast nets will have to provide, were still on the agenda.

He is also still seeking two more votes on his set-top revamp proposal, which is on circulation to the other commissioners.

The chairman's office declined comment.