The President-elect met with his FCC transition team Friday and “is said to have signed off” on a plan endorsed by the FCC’s two GOP commissioners, Ajit Pai and Michael O’Reilly, the publication says. Trump met with Pai on Monday.
Republicans will dominate the agency, joined by one remaining Democrat: Mignon Clyburn. Chairman Tom Wheeler is resigning, and Jessica Rosenworcel’s term expired this month; President Barack Obama renominated her, but the Senate did not reconfirm.
Trump will have the opportunity to appoint their replacements on the five-member commission.
The incoming administration has not released a detailed proposal for the FCC, but Democrats and Republicans alike have kicked around the idea of overhauling the agency for years.
Two members of Trump’s FCC transition team — the American Enterprise Institute’s Jeffrey Eisenach and Roslyn Layton — have been especially outspoken in favor of reassigning some of the FCC’s activities to other agencies.
“Convergence has not only eliminated the need for technology-specific regulation of communications services but also removed the justification for sector-specific regulation,” they said in a 2014 letter to Congress. “It is past time that the communications industry follow the path of the airline and railroad industries and transition to a competition-oriented regulatory regime.
“The appropriate standard for competition oversight is consumer welfare and competition protection,” Eisenach and Layton added. “That standard, by and large, is embodied in current antitrust laws. Industry-specific competition oversight is not only unnecessary, but leads to regulatory discrimination and market distortions.”
But the devil’s in the details — and Public Knowledge senior counsel John Bergmayer, for one, sees potential problems.
The media and communications companies that the FCC regulates “have many ‘public interest’-style issues that don’t fit neatly into a pure competition/consumer protection framework,” he says.
So although “general-purpose laws” involving torts and antitrust have their place, “when the same kinds of harms and patterns of conduct repeat themselves in specific industries then it makes sense to specifically address them in the law.”