|Federal Communications Commission
1919 - M Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
|News media information 202 / 418-0500
Fax-On-Demand 202 / 418-2830
This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).
FCC PROPOSES MEASURES TO STREAMLINE BROADCAST APPLICATION AND
LICENSING PROCESS, SEEKS COMMENT ON MANDATORY ELECTRONIC FILING
The FCC today proposed to (1) streamline broadcast application and licensing procedures,
(2) reduce licensee administrative and filing requirements and (3) eliminate rules and procedures
that no longer advance key regulatory objectives. The Commission also sought comment on
whether to mandate electronic filing for broadcast application and reporting forms.|
In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued today, the Commission said its streamlining goals are to preserve the public's ability to participate fully in the FCC broadcasting licensing process, reduce unwarranted applicant and licensee burdens and realize fully the benefits of the Mass Media Bureau's current electronic filing initiative.
These proposals are premised on the Commission's belief that it can prudently increase its reliance on applicant certifications. It said that this change in regulatory approach will be accompanied by a new, formal program of random audits to ensure compliance with the Commission's rules. The Commission emphasized its commitment to severely sanction those applicants that fall short of discharging their obligations of full disclosure and candor.
Although not required by statute, this initiative is undertaken in conjunction with the FCC's ongoing 1998 biennial regulatory review.
Streamlining actions taken today include:
News Media Contact: David Fiske (202) 418-0513
[ Text Version | WordPerfect Version ]
In re: Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
1998 Biennial Regulatory Review -- Streamlining of Mass Media Applications, Rules, and Processes
I support adoption of this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. To my mind, any reduction in paperwork obligations or simplification of our procedural rules for regulated entities -- or "streamlining" -- is always a plus. To that extent, this item is good policy and I am all for it.
This item should not, however, be mistaken for compliance with section 11 of the Communications Act.
First of all, section 11 requires a biennial review of all regulations that govern the operations of "any provider of telecommunications service." 47 U.S.C. section 161(a)(1). It does not by its terms apply to regulations governing those in the broadcasting and cable business, unless they also provide telecommunications service. I therefore understand this mass media item to be premised not on the biennial review requirement of section 11 (notwithstanding the caption, which suggests otherwise) but on our general authority to change our rules when appropriate under section 4(i), id. section 154(i), and related provisions of the Communications Act.(1)
Second, this item focuses mainly, as do some "pure" section 11 items that we have issued,(2) on procedural rules governing filings at the Commission as opposed to substantive rules that limit what companies can do in the marketplace, e.g., regulations that restrict market entry or limit market share. As stated above, it is certainly important that in the course of the Biennial Review we evaluate our procedural rules and modify or eliminate them if necessary. But section 11 requires us to look at both procedural and substantive rules and make an affirmative finding of their continued necessity.
If all we do is "streamline" certain procedures at the Commission, without also examining all pertinent substantive rules and making the statutorily-required determinations of necessity, we will fail to meet the express directive of section 11.
As I have previously explained, I question whether the FCC is prepared to meet its statutory obligation to review all of the regulations covered by section 11 in 1998. See generally 1998 Biennial Regulatory Review -- Review of Computer III and ONA Safeguards and Requirements, 12 FCC Rcd __ (Jan. 29, 1998). To my knowledge, the FCC has no plans to review affirmatively all regulations applicable to the operations or activities of telecommunications providers and to make specific findings as to their continued necessity. Nor has the Commission issued general principles to guide our "public interest" analysis and decisionmaking process across the wide range of FCC regulations.
We should not let this item, which does not relate to telecommunications rules and focuses almost exclusively on procedural matters, or any other limited Commission analysis be mistaken for full compliance with Section 11.
* * * * * * *
1. Section 202(h) mandates a review of certain broadcast rules as a part of the section 11 Biennial Review, but only of "ownership" rules, which does not include the regulations at issue here.
2. By this I mean items regarding rules applicable to telecommunications service providers.