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SBE Urges FCC To Not Close Field Offices

Snelson writes to Wheeler

INDIANAPOLIS�Society of Broadcast Engineers President Joseph Snelson, CPBE, 8-VSB, wrote a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler on behalf of the organization and its members this week. His aim was bring awareness of broadcast engineers� opinion on the proposal to reduce by two-thirds the number and distribution of FCC field offices and to reduce the number of Commission staff in those offices by approximately half.

He notes that broadcast engineers� perspectives have not yet been solicited and requests that the commission offer an opportunity for stakeholders to give input. He notes �SBE is fully aware that the Commission is not statutorily obligated to consult the public before implementing an internal reorganization.�

However, Snelson writes, �The field offices are already operating at well below efficient levels due to the longer-term effects of hiring freezes and attrition in the offices due to retirement of experienced staff. It is SBE�s view that the draconian cuts proposed now will have a substantially adverse effect on compliance in virtually all radio services. It will make the job of SBE�s volunteer frequency coordinators who facilitate sharing of broadcast and cable auxiliary spectrum between and among broadcasters and government agencies exceptionally difficult if not impossible going forward.� �

He also notes that the consultant�s proposal was dated March 31, 2015, arguing that pausing to allow comments would not significantly delay a plan that has not yet begun to move forward.

Snelson writes: �SBE is concerned that if the �ubiquitous presence� of FCC�s �eyes and ears� disappears from most of the areas and regions where there is now at least a minimal FCC presence, there will be a marked decrease in compliance among licensees and unlicensed individuals and groups.�

He goes on to clarify: �SBE is not overly concerned about the offices themselves or the managers of those offices, but we are very much opposed to the reduction in the number of technical staff in the field.� He also brought up the idea of telecommuting as a way to reduce costs without eliminating staff.

Snelson does acknowledge �SBE is in agreement with [Wheeler] that the field offices could perhaps make better use of the limited time and resources available to them.� He emphasizes that another way to streamline costs would be to reorganize the priorities of the field offices and their employees, and he vehemently disagrees with the Enforcement Bureau deputy chief�s assertion that employees in these offices have too little to do.�