Saying that the information the commission has provided lawmakers isn’t enough, House GOP leadership are pressing the FCC for more data regarding the plan to reduce many of the agency’s field offices.
Previously, lawmakers asked the commission for any material used to determine closing close to two-thirds of its Enforcement Bureau field offices.
Now lawmakers want specifics on how the so-called “Tiger Teams” would work and respond to concerns within 24 hours. We’ve reported the teams would fly to wherever they’re needed to assist the remaining field agents.
Broadcasters, as well as some current and former Enforcement Bureau staff have expressed strong apprehension about the plan to Radio World.
FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc said at the recent NAB Show the field office structure is more than 20 years old and more than half of the current 60+ field agents are eligible for retirement. The field office costs have become unwieldy in light of recent budget constraints, according to Chairman Tom Wheeler.
“We have concerns the proposed closures will inhibit the FCC from responding” within a day, write Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon and Rep. Ander Crenshaw of Florida. Walden, a former radio group owner, chairs the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee and Crenshaw chairs the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee.
“With only eight field offices remaining, the distance between each will expand significantly. If a license holder in a formerly served area experiences an interference issue, the closest field agent might need to travel a considerable distance to evaluate and resolve a potentially serious situation,” they write.
Reps. Walden and Crenshaw also ask for more detail regarding how much money the closure plan would save the commission in fiscal years 2016 and 2017 and what regions in the country experience the highest rates of interference.
They seek answers by May 12.