Wheeler scales back plan for FCC enforcement cuts

Jun 15, 2015 10:52 pm
After floating a budget this spring with a smaller enforcement bureau, closing 16 of the 24 field offices, the Federal Communications Commission will now close just nine offices. The National Association of Broadcasters whipped up a pirate radio frenzy in response to the proposed budget cuts, with the group corralling 33 members of Congress to write a letter about the budget cuts and their impact on cities such as New York. "These changes will keep field offices open in strategic locations and help ensure that the commission can fulfill its responsibilities to the public and public safety communities," said House Communications Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) about the deal struck by the House Energy & Commerce Committee. NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton said, "NAB thanks the many members of Congress who expressed concern over proposed cuts in FCC field offices and we applaud Chairman Wheeler and his staff for resolving this issue in a manner that better protects against airwave interference. We also salute Chairman Wheeler's willingness to address the rampant growth of pirate radio, which creates significant interference challenges for radio listeners who rely daily on their legally-licensed hometown stations." And Wheeler acknowledged the NAB's input in his statement announcing the new enforcement plan. “Today, I circulated to my fellow Commissioners a modified plan to modernize our field offices," said Wheeler in a statement. "These changes create the opportunity for the FCC to be more efficient with its resources while actually improving 21st Century field activities. This updated plan represents the best of both worlds: rigorous management analysis combined with extensive stakeholder and Congressional input. Chairman Walden, Chairman Upton and other lawmakers have contributed to this effort through their thoughtful engagement," he confirmed. "Input from industry and public safety stakeholders has further informed the modifications, and I appreciate the important role played by the National Association of Broadcasters in getting to a constructive result. I urge my colleagues to approve this revised plan with dispatch so that we may get on with improving the agency’s productivity.”