The FCC voted 5-0 on a plan to restructure its field offices, but not without some grumbling from both GOP commissioners who complained about the process that led to the FCC closing fewer offices over objections from Congress and broadcasters. Offices that will remain open: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Columbia, Md., Dallas, Denver, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, Portland, Ore., New York and San Francisco.
The House Energy & Commerce Committee has struck an agreement with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler that will keep 15 of the FCC’s 24 field offices open. The budget plan had included closing 16 of the 24 offices, saying that was a way to save money without adversely impacting interference monitoring. However, some House members were not convinced, and broadcasters were concerned given the interference monitoring the FCC will have to do when it repacks stations and wireless operators after the incentive auction.
Even as the House GOP keeps the FCC’s budget on a tight leash, it is increasing its scrutiny of the commission’s plan to save money by consolidating its field offices.
Word on the street is that the FCC’s Field Offices are on the budgetary chopping block: according to a memo reportedly circulating within the commission, the number of Field Offices would be sliced by two-thirds (from 24 to 8), and staffing would be cut almost in half (from 63 to 33). Field Offices in major cities — think Seattle, Denver, Boston, Philadelphia, Houston — would all be gone. Good news, right? Not really.