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Sen. Heller Pushes for FCC Reform

Nevada Republican garners support for effort, including NAB

Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller supports legislation to require the FCC to release details of regulations at least 21 days before commissioners vote on the item at their monthly public meetings.

That’s part of FCC reform legislation Heller has introduced. The FCC Process Reform Act would also allow any commissioner to ask for a vote on any order issued by a bureau.

FCC reform has gained attention recently in light of the agency’s planned upcoming net neutrality vote at the Feb. 26 meeting.

Currently the FCC chairman privately circulates the rules to be voted on to the other commissioners before the vote, however the public doesn’t get to see details until the text is published, sometimes days after a vote.

“In amending the rules, the public will know exactly what the FCC is voting on well before the vote. Right now, we don’t even know what major decision like the FCC’s net neutrality order says. How is that an example of solid rulemaking?” Heller says.

The FCC Process Reform Act would also modify the agency’s “Sunshine” rules, allowing commissioners of both parties to meet to discuss items coming up for a vote. Currently, commissioners are restricted in those discussions with each other, and with the public.

House Communications Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Greg Walden supports the efforts, noting the House has been behind several FCC reform measures. “Our efforts have enjoyed broad bipartisan support in the House only to fall short in the Senate. That will change with this new Congress.”

Commissioner Michael O’Rielly has previously expressed support the bill, and for more openness in the commissioner’s voting process.

NAB too, supports Heller’s efforts. NAB EVP Communications Dennis Wharton stated the measure would “help ensure that commission procedures don’t impede the ability of broadcasters to serve the public interest.”