NAB 2017

O’Rielly Sees Leaner FCC, Fewer Regs Ahead

FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly had tough words for his agency’s regulatory history and high praise for its new leadership on Monday. He sees an update of current media ownership rules forthcoming under the Trump administration, along with intense scrutiny of the agency’s entire regulatory regime.

The FCC’s entire regulatory structure will be under the microscope with a new chairman and general disdain for “discriminatory” regulation, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly told an audience at the NAB Show in Las Vegas on Monday.

O’Rielly didn’t mince words in his harsh criticism of the commission, which he charged with incompetence even in its original task of properly regulating the radio spectrum. “The commission is not sufficiently able or willing to properly police radio spectrum to ensure licensees are protected,” he said.

The harm from that failure — and the proliferation of pirate broadcasters — will expand beyond radio and “devalue spectrum licenses for wireless communications, eliminate or narrow access to capital for such networks and wreak havoc for the development of a flexible ATSC 3.0 standard,” he said.

In newly-appointed Chairman Ajit Pai, however, O’Rielly sees a new era in broadcast regulation dawning.

“Chairman Pai brings with him a love of broadcasting and a love of small businesses,” he said. “His selection may prove the catalyst for a regulatory golden age of our nation’s broadcasters.”

O’Rielly sees the current commission as poised to reduce broadcast regulations.


“The commission is open to review every burden imposed on broadcasters to determine if each regulation is necessary in the 21st century,” he said, adding that includes the media crossownership rule and the duopoly ban.

“Those rules that don’t survive scrutiny should be junked,” O’Rielly said. “The result will be a leaner regulatory structure that has reduced compliance costs, thereby providing additional savings to reinvest elsewhere.”

Kicking off a debate on whether the agency should be scuttled, O’Rielly said that under Pai, the new executive and legislative branches, “the agency can address many of its flaws on its own.”

To see all of TVNewsCheck’s 2017 NAB Show coverage, click here.

Comments (4)

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Julien Devereux says:

April 25, 2017 at 9:40 am

Huge corporate broadcasters want fewer regulations and less oversight for the same reason criminals want fewer police. It’s easier to get away with murder….

    Tom Hardin says:

    April 25, 2017 at 10:02 am

    as opposed to oppressive regulation that focuses on the minutia

yin yu says:

April 25, 2017 at 12:08 pm

FCC ‘oppressive’ regs are merely window dressing to give the illusion of oversight. If FCC really believed in competition, it would open up more filing windows exclusively to newbies.

Ellen Samrock says:

April 25, 2017 at 1:03 pm

While it’s great to see the FCC take a pro-broadcaster stance after years of neglect and abuse the industry has endured under Obama, there are some justifiable areas of concern that the Commission may be favoring NAB-member broadcasters over low power and non-member broadcasters. For example, the change in FM translator siting rules which will have a negative impact on current and future LPFM stations. The other, is the high bar that the FCC has set for non-auction eligible LPTV stations to channel share with full-power stations, including a possible auction. Let’s hope these issues get resolved in a fair manner.

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