An article today in The Washington Post reporting on how members of President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team are entertaining the notion of dismantling or severely limiting the Federal Communications Commission. The hope is that with a panel made up of three Republican commissioners, the Commission could downsize to a spectrum licensing agency, awarding eligible wireless carriers with access to the nation’s airwaves.
How likely is elimination of America’s telecommunications regulator? I wouldn’t hold my breath. While there are examples of major federal agencies being out out to pasture, like the Civil Aviation Board and the Interstate Commerce Commission, killing an agency outright with the stature of the Commission and supporters like Senator Ed Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, will be near impossible.
In addition, consumer protection warriors like Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, will continue to echo current Commission chairman Tom Wheeler‘s “cop on the beat” narrative for maintaining the Commission’s Title II-based consumer protections.
I suspect the House committee on energy and communications will continue its pursuit of an updated Communications Act, one designed to reflect the changes in telecommunications technology while codifying the principles of net neutrality.
No, the Commission isn’t going anywhere soon, but it won’t be the progressive agency it has been under Tom Wheeler.