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Federal Communications Commission
1919 - M Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
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Internet: http://www.fcc.gov

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).

April 2, 1998


Today's Commission agenda meeting is an important one because of the deregulatory thrust of many of the matters we consider.

When I first became Chairman -- and indeed during the confirmation process -- I said that I wanted the Commission to take a common sense approach to regulation and ensure that we do not impose -- or retain -- any unnecessary burdens on regulated entities. Today's meeting demonstrates that we are making significant progress on this front.

Deregulation and Streamlining

Three of the four items on the agenda today involve streamlining and deregulation. These items demonstrate the strong commitment that I and my fellow Commissioners have made to reduce regulatory burdens and streamline the processes by which the public interacts with the FCC.

Each of these items involves, at least in part, electronic filing. They will help bring the Commission further into the information age. Two of these items also involve substantive deregulation.

I am very excited that the Commission is able to move forward on so many streamlining and deregulatory initiatives, both as part of our 1998 Biennial Regulatory Review and in additional proceedings. As one who formerly represented communications companies before the FCC, I know only too well the need for action in this area. I want to assure everyone that while I am Chairman, and under this Commission, there is going to be a lot more deregulation and streamlining, to the ultimate benefit of not just the industries we regulate but the public interest.

In the first of these proceedings, in an item prepared by the Office of General Counsel and Office of Public Affairs, we consider the adoption of rules for electronic filing in rulemaking and related types of proceedings. This will make it much easier for the public -- and particularly persons with disabilities -- to participate in Commission proceedings of greatest general interest.

We also begin a rulemaking proceeding, as part of our biennial review of all FCC rules, to move to electronic filing for mass media applications. More generally, this item, prepared by the Mass Media Bureau, proposes a move toward simpler mass media application processes and also proposes related substantive deregulation.

A report and order from the Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) involves electronic filing for equipment authorization applications, simplification of the equipment authorization process and deregulation of certain equipment authorization requirements.

Biennial Review

Because one of today's items is part of the Commission's 1998 Biennial Regulatory Review, I want to say a few words about that broad-ranging Commission initiative for substantive and procedural deregulation and streamlining.

Section 11 of the Communications Act, as amended by the Telecommunications Act of 1996, requires the Commission to review all of its regulations regarding providers of telecommunications service in every even-numbered year to determine whether certain regulations are no longer necessary in the public interest as the result of meaningful economic competition between providers of the service and whether such regulations should be repealed or modified. While the statute does not require us to reaffirm those regulations that continue to serve the public interest, it does require us to identify and do something about those that we determine don't. In addition, section 202(h) of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 requires the Commission to review its broadcast ownership rules biennially as part of the review conducted pursuant to section 11.

Soon after I became Chairman, I directed that the first biennial review be even broader than required by the statute. With a new Commission on board, I believed this was an excellent opportunity for a serious top-to-bottom examination of all the Commission's regulations, not just those required to be reviewed by statute.

This review began in November and is continuing apace. As part of the process, the Commission staff engaged in a comprehensive internal review of all regulations covered by section 11 and section 202(h) as well as other Commission regulations. The staff sought specific suggestions from each of the Commissioners. Several public forums sponsored by the Commission as well as brown bag lunches with practice groups of the Federal Communications Bar Association provided opportunities for input from the industry and the public. Input has also been received through the Biennial Review mailbox on the Commission's Internet Home Page and other means. We continue to receive useful input.

After this comprehensive review by the staff, and input from the public and the Commissioners, the staff announced in early February a list of approximately 30 proceedings it recommended the Commission initiate as part of the 1998 biennial review. About half of the proposed proceedings involve common carriers, which are regulated principally by three Commission Bureaus (Common Carrier Bureau, International Bureau and Wireless Telecommunications Bureau). These proceedings generally involve numerous individual rules.

Two important proceedings involving common carriers have already begun -- a proceeding to consider elimination of certain Computer III rules regarding Comparably Efficient Interconnection Plans and a proceeding to streamline the application process for wireless common carriers and other wireless entities. We have also begun an inquiry into our broadcast ownership rules, simplified our rules regarding when EEO reports need to be filed and, today, consider items involving broadcast application streamlining and deregulation as well as deregulation of some of our equipment rules.

More proceedings -- involving common carriers, broadcasters and others -- are on the way. I am confident that at the end of the process, with the cooperation and input of my colleagues, we will see significant substantive and procedural deregulation and streamlining for common carriers, broadcasters and others, both as required by the statute and going well beyond the statutory requirements.

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