Rep. Eshoo Slams FCC Reform Bills

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) will take aim at a trio of Republican FCC process reform bills that are the subject of an oversight hearing in the Communications Subcommittee Thursday (April 30). But she does more than just throw stones, offering some bricks to build better process.

That is according to a copy of her opening statement for the hearing.

"Collectively, these bills will tie the agency in knots by undermining established Administrative Procedure Act (APA) precedents, establishing a new FCC-specific regime that jeopardizes regulatory certainty, and opens the door to legal challenges on every Commission action," she plans to tell her colleagues. "By breaking the back of the delegated authority process, the legislation will encourage wholesale, last-minute lobbying to game the system, increasing the time and litigation related to FCC processes."

The bills being vetted would: 1) require the FCC to publish the text of any action it wants to vote on within 24 hours of being circulated, or 21 days before a vote; 2) require that the text of regulations be published online within 24 hours of being adopted; and that 3) "the Commission to identify and describe all items to be adopted by Commission staff on delegated authority to increase the public’s awareness of the FCC’s day-to-day decisions."

Eshoo says that if the committee majority really wants reform, she has some ideas. Those include 1) the FCC upgrading its phone system to provide direct dialing of 911; 2) requiring the FCC to report the number of pending decisions, types of pending requests—like petitions for various reviews—and how long they have been pending; and 3) allowing more than two commissioners to confer outside of public meetings—with "appropriate safeguards"—a long-time ask from Eshoo.

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.