The two Republican commissioners on the Federal Communications Commission – Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly – each made speeches yesterday that perhaps offer some hints as to what changes will likely occur under the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump.
The FCC is “working on a number of last-minute projects in an attempt to move the goalposts a little more to the left, despite the clear instructions of Congress that we should immediately stop work on any controversial items,” O’Rielly said during remarks to the Free State Foundation, a thank tank that supports “eliminating unnecessary and counter-productive regulatory mandates.”
O’Rielly spoke about the need to “clear the regulatory underbrush” that is “choking businesses and diverting resources away from new and improved products, better service, and lower prices for consumers.”
In talking about media ownership rules, O’Rielly said: “In some instances, outdated rules are distorting entire marketplaces, preventing them from responding to modern realities and consumer demands …” where he may have well been also talking about changes that have been made to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
Commissioner Pai, in remarks to the same group, talked about the changes that are likely forthcoming under a Republican administration. That includes, Pai said, increased transparency about what the FCC is doing. “None should be kept in the dark about what is happening at the agency” Pai said.
While neither commissioner specifically mentioned the TCPA or anything directly related to the collections industry, it was clear from all of their remarks that they expect an era of decreased regulatory interference and “respecting the limits that Congress has placed on our authority,” Pai said.
In remarks a day earlier to the New England Ratepayers Association, O’Rielly said he is “very excited” about the incoming administration and what it might mean with respect to changes coming to the FCC and the federal government. O’Rielly laid out four areas where he thinks the FCC should “best spend” its time in the coming months:
One, enact fixes to our internal process and reorganize the Commission structure;
Two, remove regulatory underbrush (i.e., those rules and regulations that have outlived their usefulness and cause burdens, in terms of costs, compliance time and lost opportunities, on regulated entities);
Three, undo inappropriate and partisan decisions made by the prior Commission;
And four, pursue a pro-growth, pro-innovation agenda that allows providers to spend more time serving consumers and less time worrying about being trapped by the Commission’s latest harebrained regulatory scheme.