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Congress

House Passes FCC Reform Measure on Voice Vote

May 30, 2012

A bill designed to simplify how the Federal Communications Commission reports to Congress on competition in the media industry passed the House of Representatives Wednesday by a voice vote under suspension of the rules.

The Federal Communications Commission Consolidated Reporting Act will combine previously separate reports on cable prices, video programming, competition in the satellite industry, barriers to entry for small businesses and other aspects of media and communications. If the House version becomes law, eight of these annual reports will be combined into a single report to be published every two years.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., and backed by a bipartisan coalition. "Many of these reports not only place tremendous burdens on the industry groups that have to provide this data," Scalise said in remarks on the House floor, "but many times because of the way they're structured, by the time the report's issued, the data's outdated, and really doesn't look at any broad spectrum issues. They're mostly specific to an industry and a specific area of an industry, instead of looking at the entire marketplace."

Some of these industry groups were quick to chime in with their support of the measure. "By reducing the FCC's non-essential Congressional reporting requirements, the Commission will be able to impose a significantly smaller burden on a vibrant and competitive telecommunications marketplace that is focused on meeting consumer demand for the next big thing," The National Cable & Telecommunications Association said in a statement.

CTIA President and CEO Steve Largent called it a common sense bill.

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., has introduced a version of the bill in the Senate. That body will have two FCC reform measures to consider. The Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act of 2012, which passed by the House in March, constrains the FCC's rulemaking powers, and faces tough prospects in the Democrat-controlled Senate. By contrast, the bill on streamlining the production of FCC reports is relatively noncontroversial.

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