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White House Continues to Back NTIA in Budget

While there are major cuts in President Donald Trump's "America first" budget, including a 16% cut in funds for the Department of Commerce, the document says the White House will continue to support the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), at least as far as "representing the United States interest at multistakeholder forums on Internet governance and digital commerce."

The budget did not break out cuts for the FCC, but they are part of a category that averages close to a 10% hit.

NTIA is the President's principal telecom policy advisor, overseeing government use of spectrum much as the FCC does private users, and providing input on issues including online privacy, security, and network neutrality.

The budget, released today (March 16) also says it "supports the commercial sector’s development of next-generation wireless services by funding NTIA’s mission of evaluating and ensuring the efficient use of spectrum by Government users."

NTIA has been looking into encouraging government spectrum user to give up spectrum to, or share it with, private sector users as a way to boost wireless broadband.

The Commerce cuts are coming from, among other things, eliminating the Minority Business Development Agency, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, and the Economic Development Administration.

The budget, which is more of an outline than the itemized budget released by prior administrations, does not provide a breakout of cuts for the FCC, but an "other agency" category has a total budget of $26.5 billion in 2018, down from $29.4 billion in 2017, or a 9.8% cut.

OMB director Mick Mulvaney had signaled agency heads would have more flexibility--which also means more responsibility--to determine where the cuts will come.

John Eggerton
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.