FCC Commissioners Appear Before House Panel At Oversight Hearing
December 12, 2013 at 4:53 PM (PT)
The FCC commissioners appeared TODAY before the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee for an oversight hearing, concentrating mostly on networks but also dealing with
Chairman TOM WHEELER called himself a “network guy” and focused on the Internet, telling the panel that "my time in the private sector has left me an unabashed supporter of competition," but expressed his support for process reform, saying that the Commission "will work with Congress to have the best functioning FCC." He also discussed making "the availability and efficient use of spectrum for all purposes... a very high Commission priority" and said that he is "very pleased about the recent progress toward making additional spectrum available for wireless broadband," touting the incentive auction as "both a great opportunity and a great challenge." And he explained the Commission's moves toward allowing cellphone use on airplanes, agreeing with critics about the undesirability of "the person in the seat next to me yapping at 35,000 feet" but asserting that "we are not the Federal Courtesy Commission. Our mandate from Congress is to oversee how networks function. Technology has produced a new network reality recognized by governments and airlines around the world. Our responsibility is to recognize that new reality’s impact on our old rules."
Commissioner MIGNON CLYBURN's comments focused on networks and the incentive auctions, but also took a moment to express support for the FCC reform bill's exemption of more than two Commissioners meeting from the Sunshine Act. New Commissioner MICHAEL O'RIELLY, on the other hand, went after media ownership rules, charging that "the Commission has failed to comply with the obligations required by the Telecommunications Act of 1996... to review and repeal or modify any of its media ownership rules that are no longer in the public interest as a result of competition." He insisted that "the Commission needs to complete its 2010 review (of the rules) and vote." And Commissioner AJIT PAI raised his pet issue of AM revitalization, agreed with O'RIELLY that the delay in reviewing ownership rules is "unacceptable," and repeated his FCC reform proposal for a "dashboard" to show how the Commission is performing in terms of speed of processing various applications.