U.S. Representative Greg Walden, Republican of Oregon and chairman of the House Sub-Committee on Communications and Technology, spoke to members of the National Association of Broadcasters and explained why the Federal Communications Commission is in need of a little reform. You can see his speech here.
Mr. Walden would like to see the FCC’s best practices codified, particularly when it comes to rules for digging up more spectrum. Mr. Walden’s concern about codifying best practices. There is nothing more irritating than the lack of certainty that a lack of codes can create, and ironically it is just as disconcerting for the most earnest government worker. The last thing you need is a regulator unsure as to how to approach a regulated entity or consumers simply because there are no clear rules to follow.
The Friendly Candy Company (Mr. Walden’s words) has a penchant for focusing on expanding its authority, said Mr. Walden. He never laid out any specifics for how to rein in an out of control FCC, which is not surprising. That’s not the kind of information you want to put out unless you are introducing specific legislation. Mr. Walden has never struck me as one just to throw out an idea without some legislation around the corner so I would warn readers to look out for some draft statute. If one is put out, I would suspect it would be marginal given a Senate filled with Democrats would have to pass it.
Mr. Walden would like the FCC to demonstrate the existence of market failure before imposing additional regulations on the broadband industry. I don’t expect the FCC to implement that policy anytime soon, not while it’s dominated by Democrats, and although it is an independent agency, the Democrats on board are still heavily influenced by Washington’s chief Democrat, President Barack Obama.
One of the first acts Mr. Obama took was to erase his predecessor’s executive order calling on agencies to determine market failure before making new rules, and I suspect, based on its performance over the past four years, that the FCC won’t be partaking in cost benefit analysis needed for identifying market failure.
Mr. Walden also called for the FCC to place limits on transactions that are limited to harms that would stem from the transactions. For example, don’t ask for AT&T to divest a significant portion of its network and customers if you can’t demonstrate that entry into the broadband market would be adversely affected. Again, don’t hold your breath, not as long as the FCC has the opaque public interest standard to hide behind.