Elimination Of the FCC Is a Worthy Goal
Regulatory State: Two days after the FCC voted to take over the Internet, it stands in the way of an agreement between private companies. This is an agency that should be targeted for elimination.
On Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission approved net neutrality, a regulatory framework that has been sold as a means of keeping the Web fair and open. In truth, the rules give government the authority to tell Internet service providers how to organize the traffic that flows over their infrastructure.
That's enough meddling in private affairs for one week for any federal agency. But the FCC wasn't finished.
Chairman Julius Genachowski, who pushed net neutrality despite a court ruling and bipartisan opposition in Congress, set conditions Thursday on Comcast's acquisition of NBC Universal. He wants Comcast to distribute content in a way that he approves of and lets competitors access Comcast's platform.
It's almost amusing that these conditions are being applied in the name of the "public interest."
Genachowski's proposal isn't binding. He still has to present his ideas to the other four commissioners and a vote must be taken. But neither one man nor one group should have the power to marshal private companies' business operations.
Private media companies are not government-owned utilities.
Regulators such as Genachowski say they are merely trying to keep competition healthy and protect consumers.
But their efforts inhibit competition and obstruct innovation.
Cell phones, for instance, were delayed by the FCC for a decade. The cost of this hang-up to the economy, according to the National Economic Research Associates, was $85 billion.
Like generals fighting the last war, regulators make rules based on the way businesses operated yesterday. As they try to keep up with market dynamics, they inflict uncertainty into business decisions and put a boot on the neck of progress. When not held back by regulators, though, companies freely create new technologies and business models that increase competition.
What role, then, is there for regulators, especially those at the FCC, which oversees one of the most dynamic industries in the world? With the intense competition in telecommunications that has benefited consumers and led to wide commercial successes, there's no need for a government referee in this sector.
There's nothing the FCC does that can't be eliminated, streamlined or handed over to another agency or department that has a legitimate function. (Ed Morrissey of hotair.com suggests broadcast licenses "could be handled by the Commerce Department, or by a greatly reduced FCC with binding limitations on jurisdiction." The point is, the FCC as now constituted doesn't have to do it.)
The FCC has been around for a while - it was established by the Communications Act of 1934. So it won't be abolished overnight. But its elimination is a worthy goal.
Republicans, who at one time had a shutdown agenda, will control the House beginning in January. They should make the call and get the process started.