FCC leaves public behind

The FCC should ensure equal access to rulemaking information for all stakeholders.

In a report released last month, the Government Accountability Office revealed that the Federal Communications

Commission consistently leaks vital rulemaking information to corporate lobbyists and big media stakeholders, leaving citizens and public-interest groups in the dark when it comes to important media decisions in our country. Several industry stakeholders admitted to the GAO that they learn which items the FCC will vote on, even though that information is not supposed to be released outside of the FCC.

The preferential treatment certain media lobby groups receive from the FCC may give them an edge when it comes to important issues that affect media policy and regulation.

According to the report, stakeholders in large companies were given rulemaking information earlier than consumer and public-interest groups. FCC members said “timing is everything” when lobbyists look to push a certain vote.

When stakeholders on one side receive information earlier than the other side, this gives them more time to meet with voting FCC members to push a certain agenda, maximizing impact.

It is crucial that the FCC create an environment that allows all stakeholders an equal chance to participate in the voting process. The FCC is a media regulation agency created to ensure proper usage of public airwaves and promote diversity and competition in media. From who controls the city newspaper to the diversity of voices we hear on the radio, FCC regulations affect the lives of every American. The FCC affects the business practices of media owners and is routinely lobbied by groups and companies who have a vested interest in the regulations of the media industry. The outcomes of decisions made by the FCC are felt throughout the entire media industry, and it is vital that it conducts rulemaking and policy change in a fair and transparent manner.

It is not acceptable that a regulatory agency, which was founded to act in the public interest, seems to be catering to the interests of wealthy media conglomerates and their lobbyists instead. The people who are most affected by the FCC have been left behind, and governing members of the FCC have lost sight of the Commission’s original intent. It’s time for the FCC to shine a light on its increasingly shady regulatory processes.