Thursday, September 12, 2013

House Unanimously Passes FCC Consolidated Reporting Act

This week, the House unanimously passed the FCC Consolidated Reporting Act (H.R. 2844) in a 415-0 vote, with 227 Republicans and 188 Democrats voting yea. The legislation requires one Communications Marketplace Report instead of the eight separate reports previously required, and it also strikes redundancies and outdated references in the Commission’s reporting requirements.
Representative Steve Scalise kicked off the House debate on Monday by stating: “This bill is another step in the process of streamlining government so that businesses can focus their time and resources on growing our economy and creating jobs, instead of complying with outdated and burdensome mandates from the federal government.”
Free State Foundation President Randolph May called for the passage of the Consolidated Reporting Act in his testimony at the July hearing before the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology entitled, Improving FCC Process. May stated:
I wholeheartedly support new Section 14, the proposed Federal Communications Commission Consolidated Reporting Act of 2013. The required consolidated report would replace the myriad of existing sector and technology-specific marketplace reports that the Commission is now required to compile on a periodic basis. Consolidation of the various competition/marketplace status reports should help reduce the agency's workload somewhat because there necessarily is some inherent duplication in producing the half dozen or more separate reports. But, more importantly, the requirement to produce a consolidated report should steer the Commission away from its pronounced tendency to view the separate technology-based services as confined to their own "smokestacks" and non-competitive with each other. In today's competitive digital services environment characterized by convergence, adhering to the "smokestack" view inherently neglects marketplace realities. For example, the Commission still refuses to acknowledge the extent to which wireless services compete with wireline services, even though nearly 40% of U.S. households have abandoned landline telephone service.
The draft bill requires the Commission to assess competition in the communications marketplace, taking into account all the various services and technologies, and it specifically directs the agency ‘to consider the effect of intermodal competition, facilities-based competition, and competition from new and emergent communications services, including the provision of content and communications using the Internet.’ This requirement is especially important as part of the necessary effort to get the FCC to take a more realistic, economically rigorous, view of the extent to which competition now prevails in the communications marketplace.”
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai said in a statement Tuesday, “this is straightforward, good-government legislation, and I hope that the U.S. Senate will act quickly to send this bill to the President for his signature.”
I agree.