Sunday, November 27, 2016

Reform the FCC!

In this volatile and contentious time, it has become even more likely that any advocacy position may trigger misperception, intentional or not.  Recently, one of the two FCC transition managers for the incoming Trump administration, has been characterized as calling for the agency’s closure.  See http://www.techpolicydaily.com/communications/do-we-need-the-fcc/.

 
I do not read Dr. Mark A. Jamison as advocating a torch to the very agency he will help staff with senior managers.  Instead, I get a strong message with which I agree: the FCC has become far too partisan and political on matters that do not typically cleave on a Democrat/Republican fulcrum.  For decades, FCC Commissioners did not split on party lines.

Why now?

 
I attribute the polarization of the agency as directly resulting from Commissioner appointments of congressional staffers who in turn hire the same type of professional to serve as their senior staff.  Rather than consider major regulatory issues in terms of the national interest, it appears that baser, political motivations predominate.  We really, really, really need an independent, expert regulatory agency that does not allow its work product to be molded by politics.

 
This is a two-party problem: if Democratic FCC senior management allowed President Obama to lobby for a preferred network neutrality policy to rousing Republican indignation, then these very same folks should resist efforts by President Trump to direct a preferred agency decision on, for example, the proposed merger of Time Warner and AT&T.  Science, or as close to dispassionate scientific analysis, should apply, regardless of what that analysis generates.  Economic analysis does matter, and for the Commission’s part, it must be free of results-driven assumptions and strategies.


Making the FCC apolitical, requires fortitude and the commitment to empirical analysis, rather than the lazy and convenient reliance on sponsored research used in advocacy documents by stakeholders.


We do need to replace the current partisan FCC with an honest broker ready, willing and able to apply science and empiricism.

           

No comments: