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Waters Introduces FCC Reform Bill

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) has introduced an FCC reform bill that would have prevented the departure of FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker to Comcast earlier this year, and would follow the money in proceedings.

The bill, the FCC Merging Entities Regulatory Guidance and Ethical Reform (MERGER) Act of 2011, would authorize the FCC to require public disclosure of contributions recieved by any party that submits comments to a merger, rulemaking or adjudicatory proceeding.

It would also prevent FCC officials from accepting employment with a company within one year of presiding over a decision involving that company--which is what Baker did less than six months after voting to approve the Comcast–NBCU merger. Waters was a strong and vocal opponent of the deal.

The MERGER bill was aimed at countering Republican reform efforts Waters and other Democrats have suggested are meant to tie the FCC's regulatory hands in merger reviews and other proceedings.

"Although the Republicans continue to focus their FCC reform agenda on deregulation and aggressive efforts to diminish the Commission's capacity to implement rules and reject mergers," said Waters. "I strongly believe that the FCC should review its public comment process and assess whether improvements can be made to promote greater transparency and accountability."