Republican FCC commissioner Michael O'Rielly is a big fan of President Trump's executive order (EO) creating a top Administration official committee to review foreign applications for FCC telecom licenses.
The President released the order over the weekend, essentially adding a new layer of oversight on the government's historic "Team Telecom" national security reviews of foreign ownership applications, but one that puts shot clocks on the process.
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“I am exceptionally pleased by President Trump’s release of an Executive Order setting forth official procedures for administrative agencies to review and comment on FCC applications involving foreign ownership of communications companies, previously referred to as ‘Team Telecom,’" O'Rielly wrote in a statement on the order.
"While all of our hearts and minds are properly focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, this EO will facilitate acceptable investment of foreign capital in the communications sector to help jump start the industry and our economy, when that time comes."
O'Rielly has long been a critic of the team telecom review process, which he calls unpredictable and indefensible, and which he said reached new heights of dysfunction under President Obama.
O'Rielly has been particularly critical of the delays in the process. In May 2019 he pointed to one team telecom review that took seven years, a delay he said was not fair to the company and needed to change. He said at that time that such reviews should themselves be reviewed and improved, something the Executive Order pledges to do.
According to a spokesperson for O'Rielly, "our expectation would be that formalizing the process should effectively speed things up because there’s a limited timeframe in which to make decisions, and therefore agencies will have to engage in the process more actively to meet the deadlines and won’t have the discretion to sit on an application indefinitely."
The commissioner called on FCC chairman Ajit Pai to integrate the order into FCC reviews ASAP.
The chairman said Monday (April 6) that now that the order has been issued, "the FCC will move forward to conclude our own pending rulemaking on reform of the foreign ownership review process."
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.
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