FCC member leaves little room for hope that agency will do its job

Monday, December 18, 2006 at 05:26 PM

Like all regulatory agencies, the FCC is bound to regulate a specific industry to ensure that it serves the public interest, not to serve as cheerleaders for the industry.  Recent comments by FCC member Robert McDowell leave little doubt that he, and by extension the agency, really have no intention of exercising their authority in the public interest.

From a tvweek.com story on McDowell's appearance before "a room full of Wall Street analysts attending the annual Credit Suisse Media and Telecom Week conference"

When it comes to regulation of an industry, "rarely do we do as good a job as you do," he told the representatives of the private sector.

The new wave of technologies delivering communication, information and entertainment "has become the new wave of democracy," and the delivery pipes "are getting fatter and faster," said Mr. McDowell, who joined the FCC in June. "Never have consumers been so empowered."
He cited the light regulatory hand that will apply to businesses using the analog spectrum or underutilized spectrum known as white space, which will be auctioned off as part of the TV industry's mandatory switch to digital in February 2009.

Mr. McDowell said that when confronted with evidence of marketplace failures, he favors remedies that "are narrowly tailored and sunsetted."
 Mr. McDowell favors "opportunities to succeed or fail without government, any government, putting a hand on the scale." He said legislation proposed on Capitol Hill this year is not likely to pass. "I think there is still plenty of regulatory underbrush to be cleared," he concluded.