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ACA Supports Greater Procedural Transparency At The FCC

The American Cable Association is urging the Federal Communications Commission to adopt several procedural reforms designed to make the agency's decision-making processes more open and transparent as well as more efficient and modern.

Specifically, ACA said in comments filed May 10 that the FCC should consider important changes to its so-called ex parte rules, which govern such thing as when parties may make presentations to FCC officials and how the substance of these presentations must be disclosed to the public.

"ACA believes that a regulatory agency like the FCC, which has broad oversight of small, independent cable operators, should conduct its business in the open to the maximum extent possible and require parties to disclose their advocacy promptly and in detailed fashion," American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said. "As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said long ago,
`Sunlight is the best disinfectant,'"

In its comments, ACA said the FCC should continue to require parties to submit ex parte notices after making an oral ex parte presentation within one business day after the due date for submitting reply comments in any rulemaking proceeding.

In other comments, ACA endorsed placing limits on the ability of parties to make eleventh-hour presentations that come so late in the decision-making process that opposing parties do not have sufficient time to respond prior to an agency vote. ACA said parties should not be allowed to solicit Commission or staff to make ex parte presentation during the Sunshine period if the purpose is "the clarification or adduction of evidence, or for the resolution of issues."

In another call for greater transparency, ACA urged the FCC to require that written ex parte presentations and memoranda summarizing oral ex parte presentations in docketed proceedings be filed electronically on the agency's electronic comment filing system. ACA explained that the ability to easily access FCC filings through searchable proceedings and RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds is not only efficient, but it also promotes the agency's goal of greater openness and transparency.

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