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In Perspective: Marriage counseling

Wed, 09/11/2013 - 7:02pm
Brian Santo

Rep. Greg Walden is trying to revive legislation to reform the FCC that he’s failed to get passed before and is a good bet to fail again.

He describes it as a bill that would make the FCC more transparent, though what it will mostly do is make the FCC even less effective than it is now. The FCC may lack some transparency, but that’s not its biggest problem.

One of its problems is that it was given responsibility for enforcing laws that were rapidly outdated by technology.

The result is that the Commission now has to adjudicate the endless squabbles among companies in the cable, telco, programming, and consumer electronics segments.

The FCC is doing its job; it just can’t please all of the people all of the time. But that’s not its biggest problem, either.

One problem is that few if any companies will get the regulatory relief they hope for from the FCC. The only way to get that relief is from Congress.

Which is now almost completely dysfunctional. But here’s the thing: Congressmen only do the bidding of their constituents, and their constituencies include hundreds of companies who have been quarreling with each other for so long they’ve lost sight of the fact that if they can’t agree on anything, neither will members of Congress.

So it turns out that the FCC’s biggest problem is you – you and your peers and partners and rivals, some of whom are so consumed by bitterness they frequently lose sight of the best interests of their constituency: consumers.

So, FCC reform? Pointless, and DOA. Reform of the Cable Act of ’92 and the Communicatons Act of ’96? There are a lot of people agitating for that, but that’s not going to happen either, basically because of your hopeless fractiousness.

You want a functional communications market? Lock yourselves in a room, figure out what a functional market looks like, and only then talk to Congress. Until then, the only people with the right to whine about laws and regulations are small companies and consumers – the people who always suffer when big corporations bicker like spouses who want to get divorced but won’t because they don’t like the economics of the deal.

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