House Communications Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore) supports new FCC chairman Tom Wheeler's move to study commission reform proposals--by Congress and others--with a report due on his desk by year's end. But the subcommittee chairman still wants action on bills he has proposed that would implement some of those reforms.
"I welcome chairman Wheeler's openness to looking at ways to improve transparency and accountability for the American people and those that have business before the commission,” said Walden in a statement responding to a blog post by Wheeler outlining his vision for the agency. “In the meantime, we will continue working to reach bipartisan agreement on the FCC Process Reform Act, and similarly hope that the Senate will soon take up the FCC Consolidated Reporting Act, which was unanimously approved by the House this summer."
The Consolidated Reporting Act has supporters on both sides of the aisle--though some Democratic opponents--and is the most likely to pass both the House and Senate. As its name suggests, it would consolidate eight FCC annual reports to Congress, including its cable price and video competition reviews, into a single biennial (every two-years) report.
The broadcaster- and cable operator-backed bill also requires the FCC to conduct a biennial survey of the state of competition in the marketplace that it publishes online and submits to Congress.
The FCC already conducts a quadrennial (originally biennial) reg review. But unlike that process, in this review, the FCC would be required to take into account competition from the Internet.
The Process Reform Act prospects are somewhat less bright, although it did pass out of the Energy & Commerce Committee on promises to work with Democrats on some of their issues. It would put shot clocks on FCC decisions, for one, and would limit the conditions the FCC could put on media mergers, something Democrats are unlikely to support.