House Passes FCC Report Consolidation Bill

House Republicans and Democrats overseeing communications issues agree that consolidation is a good thing, at least when it comes to FCC reports to Congress.

The House Tuesday passed the bipartisan Federal Communications Commission Consolidated Reporting Act of 2015 (HR 734) by a voice vote 411 to 0.

The bill is essentially identical to one that passed twice out of the subcommittee and full committee last Congress and passed the house 415 to zip, but failed to pass in the Senate. It now goes to the Senate to see if that part of the history can be rewritten.

The bill consolidates eight separate FCC reports to Congress, including the FCC's Sec. 706 report, into a single report on the state of the communications marketplace. It also gets rid of some outdated reports, including one on competition to the telegraph.

Passing the bill out of the House Energy & Commerce Committee was the first order of business in the first E&C markup of the new Congress earlier this month.

It was approved by voice vote and without amendment or opposition after having passed with equal dispatch out of the Communications Subcommittee.

During debate — thought there was none — on the bill, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the House Communications Subcommittee, and Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), ranking E&C member, praised the other's contributions, as well as those of Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), ranking member of the Communications Subcommittee.

Both suggested the bipartisan process that produced the bill could be a model for other legislation and committees.

Walden said the bill will insure reports are both necessary and effective. Pallone said that both sides agreed the FCC needs to collect good data, and Congress needs it for effective oversight. Combining the reports will help the FCC use its limited resources more wisely and take a more "holistic" view of the marketplace, he said.

Scalise and Walden both invoked the telegraph report to suggest it was an overdue change. Scalise said it was long past time to update the laws and reduce the report workload.

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.