The House Energy and Commerce Committee has approved the proposed FCC reform bill, following compromises from Rep. Greg Warden (R-OR). As reported yesterday, the new version of the bill does not restrict the FCC's ability to impose conditions on business mergers, nor would it force the Commission to run cost-benefit analysis for any proposed new rules. It would require the FCC to set timelines on completing its proceedings, and report to Congress on its progress. The FCC would also have to report its compliance with Freedom of Information Act requests.
According to AdWeek, the bill will likely move on to the full House of Representatives at the beginning of 2014, then on to the Senate. "This bill has been around for three years and this is our best shot. The Senate shouldn't find it menacing," said Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA). "This is about the functioning of the FCC in the 21st century."
In a statement, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai said, "I applaud the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the U.S. House of Representatives for passing by voice vote H.R. 3675, the Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act of 2013, and I commend the leaders of the Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology—Chairman Walden and Ranking Member Eshoo—for their bipartisan efforts to advance this important legislation."
He added, "All too often, proceedings at the FCC drag on for many years, leaving consumers and businesses alike waiting for the Commission to make a decision. This legislation adopts common-sense reforms that would help us become more responsive. Among other things, it makes it easier for Commissioners to collaborate, requires the Commission to set deadlines for resolving certain routine issues, and asks the Commission to report back to Congress and the public on our progress in meeting those deadlines. This is straightforward, good-government legislation, and I hope that the U.S. House and Senate will act quickly to send this bill to the President for his signature."
NAB EVP of Communications Dennis Wharton said in his own statement that "NAB appreciates the efforts of the House Energy & Commerce Committee on reaching a bipartisan agreement and passing FCC process reform legislation. This bill is an important step in helping broadcasters carry out their mission to serve the public interest by making the FCC more efficient. NAB looks forward to working with the Committee and all stakeholders on ensuring the FCC can perform its duties in an expeditious and data-driven manner."