Inside the FCC is an independent online journal featuring incisive commentary and opinion on the policies, practices and personalities of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Our mission is to provide uncommon insights into topical issues of importance to the telecom, media and technology sector, which can help inform policymakers, investors, practitioners and the media.
The Journal invites communications, media and technology experts, practitioners, and thought leaders to contribute, and accepts submissions on topical issues from interested authors. All submissions are uncompensated, and become the property of Inside the FCC.
The Editor-in-Chief & Publisher is Adonis Hoffman, Esq.
The Federal Communications Commission is one of the most important independent regulatory agencies in the U.S. government, and perhaps in the world. With broad statutory authority to regulate America's private and public communications systems, devices and apparatus, the FCC holds the power to approve or deny mergers; assess liability; levy fines and penalties; bring suit; award licenses and contracts; allocate spectrum; conduct hearings and inquiries; promulgate and interpret rules; establish standards and codes, and exercise a wide range of regulatory actions affecting television, radio, telephone, wireless, mobile, Internet, cable, satellite and international telecom services in the multi-billion dollar communications and technology sector.
An Agency of Experts
It is an agency staffed by exceptionally capable and committed attorneys, economists, engineers and professional public servants who belie the term bureaucrat. Although these officials implement the regulatory orders, they do not set the policy agenda, which is reserved exclusively for the chairman and commissioners--three Republicans and two Democrats.
Impact of FCC Rulings
In the communications pantheon, FCC rulings have the power to move markets, especially when it comes to broadband, cable and video, where the Commission is the gateway to growth and expansion. Its approval can empower an aspiring Daedelus; and its denial can ground any Icarus daring to soar too close to the sun. While the FCC continues to deliberate the fates of entire industries, there is more to its actions than meets the eye. For every item, rule or notice under consideration, there are behind the scenes policies, practices and personalities at play. At stake are hundreds of billions of dollars in investment capital, often hinging on a single decision by the FCC.
Role in Mergers & Markets
Congress long ago determined how the FCC should review mergers, mandating that it determine whether “the public interest, convenience, and necessity” would be served by approving merger applications. That determination involves an assessment of the competitive impact of the transaction, but unlike the reviews by the Department of Justice or the Federal Trade Commission, the FCC looks at whether competition would be enhanced, not just harmed, by the combination. Further, the FCC standard involves an examination of the likely effects of the transaction on the private sector deployment of advanced services, the diversity of license holders, and the diversity of information sources and services available to the public.
A New Era Under Chairman Pai
Chairman, Ajit Pai, has set the FCC on a new era of deregulation. A fundamental change in the regulatory approach to enforcement, media ownership, mergers, net neutrality, spectrum management, and regulatory procedure, among other things, are on the horizon.
Understanding the inner workings of the FCC is not easy; yet it is a sine qua non for any company affected by the long reach of America's communications laws, policy and regulation. It is essential for forward-looking investors entrusted with the responsibility of acting prudently. And it is important for any organization, entity, individual or association with a stake in the multi-billion dollar technology, media and telecommunications sector.
While the FCC is governed by an arcane set of rules, practices and procedures developed over decades, there are signs as to how it will act, for those who know its language, customs and precedents. For outsiders, discerning these signs is difficult, if not impossible. Yet for those who have been on the inside -- in the inner sanctum of the vaulted "Eighth Floor" -- navigating the corridors of the FCC can mean the difference between failure and success.