FCC changes complaint procedures, with little precision

Sep 08, 2015 10:02 pm
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The Federal Communications Commission, after cutting back its enforcement division earlier in the summer, last week instituted, “enhance[d] procedures for public safety and industry interference complaints." The new process is supposed to be a streamlined, quick-and-easy way for the commission to respond to problems, even with 13 fewer field offices around the country. Ashley Ludlow at the Communications Law Blog isn't so sure the plan will work. "Incoming complaints will be categorized as either 'high,' 'medium,' and 'low' priorities – but the notice doesn’t shed much light on how any particular complaint will be assigned to one or another category." For instance, pirate radio operations that do not interfere with any other stations, might be in one category, and pirate radio that is interfering with a news station as a storm approaches a community might be in another. Or not, Ludlow writes, as the notice is unclear. Field office representatives will respond to high priority complaints within one calendar day of filing, medium priority complaints within two business days, and low priority complaints within five business days, though "respond" and "resolve" are two very different words, she notes. Ludlow writes that if a complaintent felt unsatisfied, they can then appeal first to the Regional Director (RD), and next to the Field Director (FD). But, again, what happens next is unclear. Ludlow says that the lack of details in these new regulations does not breed confidence in the new complain system at the FCC.
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