FCC Nears Creation of Media Bureau


Washington— The Federal Communications Commission is advancing its plan to make its organizational structure more efficient without laying off any employees.

"It's time to move forward with some remodeling of the agency," said Mary Beth Richards, the FCC official who is drafting the reorganization plan for FCC chairman Michael Powell.

On Sept. 13, Richards told the four FCC commissioners that she supports eliminating the Mass Media Bureau and folding many of its operations into the Cable Services Bureau, which would tentatively be renamed the Media Bureau.

The Media Bureau — which officials project would be headed by current Cable Services Bureau chief W. Kenneth Ferree — would also take direct control over major aspects of the regulation of the direct-broadcast satellite industry.

Within the Media Bureau, the FCC plans to create an Office of Broadcast License Policy. Longtime FCC official Roy Stewart, who would lose his job as Mass Media Bureau chief, is slated to head the new Media Bureau's broadcast-license division.

"This is a substantial effort at reorganization, but it's not radical. It's not intended to be at this stage," said Powell, who wants to beef up the agency's ability to deal with complex engineering and economic issues, reflecting the sophistication of FCC-regulated industries.

Richards's plans would reshuffle the current agency's duties among various new offices, bureaus and divisions, but none of the changes would lead to the kind of workforce reduction taking place in the telecommunications sector. The FCC has about 2,000 employees.

"I want to note that under the plan, no staff will be eliminated," Richards said.

The plan requires the approval of the National Treasury Employees Union Chapter 209, which represents FCC workers, and the "concurrence" of the House and Senate committees that approve and fund agency operations, Richards said.