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Free State's May Urges 'Common Sense' FCC Reforms

Randolph May, president of deregulatory-minded free market think tank, the Free State Foundation, says he is all for FCC reforms, but that he thinks the FCC's efforts at reforming its own processes under FCC chairman Tom Wheeler have fallen short of the mark, and that "process failures" are on the rise.

That is according to May's testimony for an FCC process reform hearing in the House Communications Subcommittee Friday (May 15). He is former associate general counsel at the FCC.

May said he finds little to disagree with in the four reform bills being considered in the hearing, three of which are from Democrats, the fourth a bipartisan reintroduction of a previous FCC reform bill. There is also a trio of Republican-backed bills that were the subject of an earlier hearing but could also be discussed.  It is time for the Congress to act, given what he sees as the FCC's failure to reform itself, he added.

In particular, May points to discussion draft requirements that the FCC establish policies and procedures 1) concerning the submission of comments, reports and data toward the end of comment periods or even after them (the FCC takes comment even after the official comment period ends); 2) for including the specific language of a proposed rule in the rulemaking notice, and 3) for including performance metrics to gauge the effectiveness of commission activities.

He calls those "common sense" reforms that should be adopted as soon as possible.

By increasing transparency, May said, the bills "would promote rule of law and due process norms, enhance public confidence in the integrity of the agency’s decision-making, and increase the Commission’s efficiency."

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.