Study on FCC’s Backlog Sees Gains, Urges Action

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Washington —The good news is that under
chairman Julius Genachowski, the Federal
Communications Commission has made
progress in clearing up backlogs
of petitions and proceedings.

The bad news is there is still
a way to go, according to a new
study from House Energy &
Commerce Committee staff , using
commission-supplied figures
to assess the FCC’s workload.

As of July 5, according to
FCC figures, the agency had
3,472 open proceedings, 3,213
of which, or 93%, had been dormant
for more than two years.

Since then, the FCC has streamlined its procedures
for closing dormant dockets. By Nov. 1,
it had closed 999, or about one-third, of them.

The committee staff called problematic the
backlog of 1,385 petitions for reconsideration
or applications for review of FCC
decisions, with 62% pending for
more than two years and 476 for
more than five years.

The report gives the FCC props
for completing transaction reviews
within its self-imposed
180-day deadline, pointing out
that it has hit that mark in 76%
of deals reviewed under Genachowski,
up from 52% for the
recent past (under more deregulatory
Republican chairmen).

The FCC takes a hit for its compliance, or
lack of it, with congressional report deadlines.
The last yearly satellite Competition Report
was in 2008, and the Status of Competition in
the Market for the Delivery of Video Programming
Report is also several years overdue.

“This staff report confirms what everyone
already knows: Chairman Genachowski
has improved many of the processes of the
Commission, but there is much work left to
be done,” Communications Subcommittee
chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.), who proposed
the reform legislation, said. “That’s why
it’s so important to move forward with process-
reform legislation now, so that the agency
locks in the gains it has already made, and
so that the public will see it continue to improve
into the future.”