Greg Walden keeps FCC plans on the front burner


As Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet, and as a former radio group owner, Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) has a special interest in the FCC. He has called once again for the FCC to make sure its policies are cost-effective and do not unnecessarily burden the businesses it regulates.

Walden wrote an opinion piece in Capitol Hill news publication Politico which essentially rehashed plans to rein in the FCC that Walden in particular and Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in general have been pursuing all year.

“First and foremost, independent agencies like the FCC should consider the costs of regulations before adopting them,” wrote Walden. “Executive agencies already do this. Taxpayers expect it. We should require the FCC to identify the problems they are considering resolving with regulation, examine alternatives and perform a cost-benefit analysis. As a small-business owner for 22 years, I did that every day. Government should do the same.”

Walden wants burdensome and unnecessary rules nipped in the bud, and suggests that full input from industry experts and the public are necessary to accomplish that preventative goal.

He has suggestions for improving the FCC regulatory process, avoiding the imposition of “voluntary” conditions that could not become a full body of regulation when deciding on transaction approval, and establishment of a shot clock on all FCC decisions – including complaints, applications and petitions.

RBR-TVBR observation: In all fairness, sometimes conditions are imposed on a merger that would not be codified as a bona fide regulation for merger-specific reasons, and the reason is to protect other businesses.

For example, the FCC would not put together regulations regarding cable carriage of broadcast networks. But when a major cable company suddenly owns a major broadcast network, the other networks may feel a legitimate need for special conditions that guarantee that the cable company’s network does not receive preferential treatment.

Also, realistically, while certain business practices could well be applied to government operations, businesses are not charged with enforcing federal regulation. A broadcaster may complain about harmful interference, but the FCC has to spend the money to prevent it in the first place and correct it when it occurs. A straight cost-benefit analysis isn’t always the appropriate measure for a government agency in the same way that it is for a private business.

That said, we are all for a minimum amount of regulation, provided as efficiently as possible.