The question I would ask Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler at tomorrow’s congressional oversight hearing is, how does the agency define “competition”? The answer to this one question—the FCC does not have a definition of competition that it applies consistently—is a symbol of everything that is wrong with the agency.
Chairman Wheeler chose “competition, competition, competition” as his guiding principle without defining what “competition” means at the FCC. Relying on a guiding principle with no specified meaning is like steering a ship with no rudder: There is no telling where the ship (FCC) will end up after it leaves port (e.g., initiates a new regulatory proceeding).
The FCC’s rudderless approach to competition results in discriminatory regulations that erode public trust in the agency’s impartiality and the rule of law. For example, scholars on both sides of the aisle have long recognized that the FCC’s use of its merger authority “lead[s] to one set of rules for those who have merged and another set of rules for similarly situated parties who have not.” Even worse, discriminatory regulations that are adopted in the name of “competition” during FCC merger review are not practically subject to judicial review. Read More