House Marking Up Communications Bills

The House Energy & Commerce Committee will be marking up a slew of bipartisan bills Wednesday (July 15) including a stand-alone bill to cancel the T-band auction, which almost nobody wants the FCC to have to go through with, and a bill that would require the FCC to consider "market entry barriers for socially disadvantaged individuals" in its reports to Congress on competition in the media marketplace.  

Related: FCC's Pai Joins Call for Congress to Ax T-Band Auction

A markup means the bills will be amended, or not, and most likely voted on, either for recommendation to the House for a vote, or not. 

H.R. 451, the Don’t Break Up the T-Band Act of 2019, was introduced by Reps. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), Al Green (D-Tex.) and Peter King (R-N.Y.). The FCC is currently slated to reclaim spectrum from first responders for auction, but FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has asked Congress to reverse that decision. In the 2012 the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, Congress required the FCC to reallocate and auction the spectrum, which has been used for decades by public safety licensees, and to fund the relocation of those users elsewhere.  

H.R. 5567, the Measuring the Economics Driving Investments and Access for Diversity Act of 2020 (or “MEDIA Diversity Act for short) was introduced by Reps. Billy Long (R-Mo.) and Rep. Marc Veasey (D-Tex.). It would make sure the FCC looked at what opportunities minorities and women had, or didn't have, to be players in the communications space. The FCC is currently under a court order to better explain the impact of its deregulatory policies on minority and women ownership of media properties. 

The other communications-related bills are: 

H.R. 1426, the “Timely Review of Infrastructure Act,” from Reps. Pete Olson (R-Tex.) and Mike Doyle (D-Pa.). 

H.R. 5918, which directs the FCC to issue reports after activation of the Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS) and to make improvements to network outage reporting, introduced by Reps. Doris Matsui, Anna Eshoo, Mike Thompson, and Jared Huffman (all D-Calif.). 

H.R. 6096, the Reliable Emergency Alert Distribution Improvement (READI) Act of 2020, introduced by Reps. Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.), Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.), Pete Olson (R-Tex.) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii). 

H.R. 6624, the Utilizing Strategic Allied Telecommunications Act of 2020 (USA Telecommunications Act), introduced by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), chairman of the committee, ranking Member Greg Walden (R-Ore.), and Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-Tex.) and Doris Matsui. 

H.R. 7310, the Spectrum IT Modernization Act of 2020, which was introduced by Reps. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), Bob Latta (R-Ohio), Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) and Tim Walberg (R-Mich.).

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.