Thursday, July 18, 2013

Time to Reconsider Reforming FCC Competition Reporting

On Friday, July 19, the FCC is expected to release its Fifteenth Video Competition Report in the course of its public meeting. I wrote about the Fourteenth Report in my Perspectives from FSF Scholars paper, "FCC's Video Report Reveals Disconnect Between Market's Effective Competition and Outdated Regulation." This new report should at least summarize more recent data on competitive developments in the video market.
The timeliness, scope, and frequency of FCC competition reports to Congress were all touched on during the U.S. House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology's hearing on "Improving FCC Process."
FSF President Randolph May provided testimony at that hearing. And his blog post, "FCC Regulatory Reform and Administrative Law," offers a further response to the hearing's discussions.
At the hearing, one of the discussion draft bills that Chairman Greg Walden called attention to a discussion draft bill that would consolidate the FCC's competition reports into a single, biennial "State of the Industry" report. In the 112th Congress, the House passed such a measure – the Consolidated Reporting Act of 2012 (H.R. 3310) – on a voice vote. Unfortunately, the Senate gave the legislation no consideration.
In my Perspectives paper, "Convergent Market Calls for Serious Intermodal Competition Assessments," I explained why I thought consolidated reporting legislation was ripe for reintroduction:
Combining disparate competition reports would structurally conduce to intermodal competition assessments. It should come as no surprise if the current system of separate FCC reporting on specific services results in largely silo-like analyses. That is what current law all but invites. A more comprehensive approach to digital age communications services – combined with a specific directive regarding intermodal competition assessment – could offer a better perspective on the competitive state of voice, video, audio, and data services as well as the substitutability of wireline, wireless, satellite, and other platforms. It could even shed light on the unnecessary and outdated regulatory burdens that now saddle communications services on a variety of platforms. Combined FCC reporting could also reduce the administrative burdens.
Combining future FCC reports is something that a June 25 GAO report also called attention to. And the forthcoming release of the FCC's Fifteenth Video Competition Report should likewise provide occasion to consider the benefits of reform.