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FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
PUBLIC FORUM: MERGER TRANSACTION PROCESS
MARCH 1, 2000
Establishment of a Merger Transaction Task Force Team
- On January 12, 2000, in response to unprecedented consolidation in the
telecommunications industry, FCC Chairman William E. Kennard directed FCC
General Counsel Christopher Wright to assess the Commission's merger review
- Mr. Wright was tasked with the challenge of how to facilitate the review of major
transactions while ensuring that the public interest is met in an era of increasing
consolidation and convergence.
- The team includes Senior Counsel Jim Bird as well as senior staff from all FCC units
that deal with transactional matters.
Goals of the FCC Merger Transaction Team:
- Maintain & Increase Transparency
Enhance the transparency of the merger transaction process, supplementing public
postings and the Electronic Comment Filing System with a web page dedicated to
- Detail the Timeframe
Strive to complete reviews of all transactions within a predictable timeframe,
commencing on the date the requests for transfer and/or assignment of authorizations
are placed on public notice, and ending no more than 180 days later, unless this time
period is suspended due to the applicant's action or inaction.
- Encourage Stakeholders to Facilitate a Streamlined Review
Develop a set of recommended best practices for applicants' requests. These
recommendations will consider input from all stakeholders to ensure that this
streamlining effort is fully effective in meeting its stated goals. Applicants who
follow the best practices will benefit from streamlined, expedited processing.
- Continue Coordination with Other Agencies
Work to enhance communication and efficient use of resources with the Department
of Justice, Federal Trade Commission, and other agencies with authority over merger
The FCC's Current System Works and We Are Making It Better
Mergers are treated like any other transfer or assignment application, except that
they generally are more complex in nature.
Open and Fair Process
- The applicants, opponents, and the public have the opportunity to voice their views
and formally file comments that will be carefully reviewed and considered.
- The process is open and the Commission explains its decisions in writing.
- The Commission's decisions are subject to judicial review.
Consistent Standards of Review
- The public interest standard applies to every transfer of licenses or lines.
- The length of time or the resources necessary to conduct a proper review varies
because the circumstances involved in some transactions require more analysis to
determine whether the public interest standard is met.
The Number of Transfer and Assignment Applications Filed with the Commission Continues to Increase:
- Some bureaus have experienced extreme growth in the number of applications
processed during the past four years and most of the bureaus saw a significant
increase in the number of applications processed.
- The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau approved 23,889 license transfers in 1996.
In 1999, this number jumped to 40,879.
- The Mass Media Bureau's Audio Division processed 3,869 applications in 1996 and
4,951 in 1999.
- The public tends to focus most of its attention on Common Carrier transfers, which
represent some of the smallest numbers of transfers, but are very complex in nature.
Since 1996, the bureaus have processed the following numbers of licenses*:
||submitted, 8 approved
||submitted, 17,586 approved
||submitted, 1024 approved
*Some applications were dismissed.