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Overview of FCC Rulemaking Proceedings

Overview of FCC Rulemaking Proceedings that Affect the Public Interest and Other Related Actions Required by the Telecommunications Act of 1996

Institute for Public Representation

I. Telecommunications services and equipment and persons with disabilities: closed captioning, video description and other telecommunications equipment

Sec. 713. Video Programming Accessibility: On December 1, 1995, the FCC issued a Notice of Inquiry examining the availability of closed captioning and video description services. The FCC has six months{1} to complete this rulemaking proceeding, after which it must report its findings to Congress. Thereafter, the FCC has eighteen months to prescribe regulations that will ensure that all video programming is closed captioned.

Sec. 255. Access by persons with disabilities: Within eighteen months, the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, in conjunction with the FCC, NTIA and the National Institute of Standards and Technology is required to develop guidelines for accessibility of telecommunications equipment for persons with disabilities.

II. Market Barriers

Sec. 707, 714 Telecommunications Development Fund: This Act creates a telecommunications Fund comprised of private sector and government representatives who will distribute funds that accrue from the interest collected on proceeds from the auctions. The Fund is established to promote access to capital for small business, to stimulate new technology developments and promote employment and training, and to support universal service and promote delivery of telecommunications services to undeserved rural and urban areas. Within one month, a representative for the private sector shall be appointed as chairman to the Fund.

Sec. 257. Market entry barriers proceeding: Within fifteen months, the FCC is required to complete a proceeding to identify and eliminate market entry barriers for entrepreneurs and other small businesses in the provision and ownership of telecommunications services.

Sec. 253. Removal of barriers to entry: If the FCC determines that a local regulation prohibits or has the effect of prohibiting the ability of any entity to provide any telecommunications services, the FCC shall preempt the enforcement of such statute.

III. Broadcasting

Sec. 202. Broadcast ownership: The FCC is required to modify its regulations pertaining to the restrictions on national radio ownership, local radio diversity, national and local television ownership, relaxation of one to a market, dual network rule changes, and cable cross ownership. The Commission shall review the rules adopted biennially to determine whether the rules are in the public interest.

Sec. 203. Term of licenses: Licenses will be granted for eight years. The FCC may adopt a different rule for particular classes of licenses.

Sec. 204. Broadcast license renewal procedures: Licenses will be automatically renewed, barring a "serious violation" or "pattern of abuse." In addition, all license renewal applicants are now required to attach a summary of public complaints received regarding violent programming aired by the licensee.

IV. Universal Service

Sec. 254. Universal service: The FCC will create a Federal-State Joint Board, within one month. The Joint Board must make a recommendation, after public notice and comment, to the FCC within nine months regarding a definition of universal service that recognizes the evolving nature of telecommunications. The new definition must also ensure universal service is broadly available at just rates on a nondiscriminatory basis. The Board must identify a timetable for universal service implementation and adopt preferential rates for healthcare and educational providers and libraries. [Snowe-Rockefeller Amendment]. Within fifteen months, the Commission will initiate a single proceeding to implement the recommendations of the Joint Board.

Sec. 706. Advanced telecommunications incentives: The FCC and the State commission with regulatory jurisdiction over telecommunications services should encourage the deployment of advanced telecommunications capability to all Americans. Within thirty months, the FCC shall initiate a notice of inquiry of advanced telecommunications to all Americans and shall complete the inquiry within 180 days after the inquiry.

V. Open Video Systems

Sec. 653. Establishment of Open Video Systems: This section repeals the FCC's rules and policies with respect to video dialtone. It permits LECs to provide cable service in a telephone service area through an open video system ("OVS"). It also permits cable and any others to provide video programming through an OVS, consistent with regulations passed by the FCC within six months. The FCC must prescribe rules that prohibit an operator of an open video system from discriminating among video programming providers with regard to carriage on its open video system, and ensure that the rates, terms, and conditions for such carriage are just and reasonable, and are not unjustly or unreasonably discriminatory.

VI. Spectrum Flexibility

Sec. 336. Broadcast spectrum flexibility: In essence, the bill gives broadcast television stations a new chunk of airwaves to deliver digital television signals. If the FCC determines to issue additional licenses for advanced television services, initial eligibility is limited to incumbent broadcasters. The FCC should also set up regulations for the recovery of licenses for reallocation or reassignment. All public interest obligations remain intact. However, the FCC may not award licenses for digital television until Congress revisits this issue later this year.

All proceeds collected pursuant to this provision are to be deposited with the Treasury. Within five years, the FCC shall report to the Congress on the implementation of the program, and should annually thereafter advise the Congress on the amounts collected pursuant to such program. Within ten years, after the date the Commission first issues additional licenses for advanced television services, the Commission is required to conduct an evaluation of the advanced television services program.

VII. Television Violence

Sec. 551. Parental Choice in Television Programming: If within one year, industry fails to recommend procedures for the identification and rating of video programming that contains sexual, violent, or other indecent material, the Commission is required to develop a ratings system based on the recommendations of an advisory board. The Commission will also oversee the adoption of standards by industry for blocking technology.

Sec. 230. Protection for Private Blocking and Screening of Offensive Material.

Sec. 552. Technology fund: All video programming distributors should be encouraged to establish a technology fund to spur television and electronics equipment manufacturers to develop technology which would empower parents to block programming they deem inappropriate for their children and to encourage availability to low-income parents.

VIII. Indecency

Sec. 502. Communications Decency Act of 1995: The FCC may describe measures which are reasonable and appropriate to restrict access to prohibited communications against whoever uses an interactive computer service to display in a manner available to a person under 18 years of age.

Sec. 641. Scrambling of sexually explicit adult video service programming: In providing sexually explicit adult programming or other programming that is indecent on any channel of its service primarily dedicated to sexually-oriented programming, a multichannel video programming distributor is required to fully scramble or otherwise fully block the video and audio portion of such channel so that one not a subscriber to such channel or programming does not receive it.

Sec. 506. Cable Operator Refusal to Carry Certain Programs. Act is amended to permit a cable operator to refuse to transmit any public access program or portion of which contains obscenity, indecency, or nudity.

IX. FCC Reforms

Sec. 402. Regulatory Reform: In every odd-numbered year, the FCC shall review all regulations under this act and has the authority to repeal any regulation that is no longer necessary in the public interest as the result of meaningful competition.

Sec. 403 Elimination of unnecessary Commission regulations and functions: If the FCC determines that such authorization serves the public interest, convenience, and necessity, the FCC may by rule authorize the operation of radio stations without individual licenses in the following radio stations: (A) the citizens band radio service; (B) the radio control service; (C) the aviation radio service for aircraft stations; (D) the maritime radio service for ship stations navigated on domestic voyages.

Sec. 710. Authorization of Appropriations: In addition to any other sums authorized by law, there are authorized to be appropriated to the FCC such sums as may be necessary to carry out this Act and the amendments made by this Act.

XI. Other Rule Making and Related Proceedings Resulting from the Passage of the Telecommunications Act, in Date Order

Sec. 704. Radio Frequency Emission Standards: Within six months , the Commission is required to complete action to proscribe and make effective rules regarding the environmental effects of radio frequency emissions.

Sec. 251. Interconnection: Within six months , the FCC must establish regulations requiring all telecommunications carriers to allow interconnection with facilities and equipment of other carriers.

Sec. 207. Restrictions on over-the-air reception devices: Within six months, the Commission shall promulgate regulations to prohibit restrictions that impair a viewer's ability to receive video programming services through devices designed for over-the-air reception of television broadcast signals, multichannel multipoint distribution service, or direct broadcast satellite services.

Sec. 701 Prevention of unfair billing practices for information or services provided over toll-free telephone calls: Not later than six months, the FCC shall revise its regulations to comply with the amendments for the prevention of unfair billing practices.

Sec. 276. Provision of payphone service: Within nine months, the FCC is required to prescribe regulations that establish a per-call compensation plan to ensure that all payphone services providers are fairly compensated for each and every completed intrastate and interstate call using their payphone. Neither emergency calls, nor telecommunications relay service calls for hearing disabled individuals are subject to the above described compensation. Included in the rulemaking, the FCC is required to determine whether public interest payphones, which are provided in the interest of public health, safety and welfare, are in locations where there would otherwise not be a payphone, should be maintained, and if so ensure that such public interest payphones are supported fairly and equitably.

Sec. 259. Infrastructure sharing: The Commission shall prescribe, within one year, regulations that require incumbent local exchange carriers to make available to any qualifying carrier such public switched network infrastructure, technology, information, and telecommunications facilities and functions as may be requested by such qualifying carrier for the purpose of enabling such carrier to provide telecommunications services.

Sec. 34. Exempt telecommunications companies: Not later than one year, the FCC must promulgate rules allowing a person to be deemed an exempt telecommunications company.

Sec. 703. Pole Attachments: The FCC shall no later than two years, prescribe regulations to govern charges for pole attachments used by telecommunications carriers to provide telecommunications services when the parties fail to resolve a dispute over charges.

Sec. 275. Alarm monitoring services: The Commission shall establish procedures for the receipt and review of complaints concerning a Bell operating company engaging in alarm monitoring services before five years. The Commission will make a final determination with respect to any such complaint within 120 days after receipt of the complaint.

Sec. 251. Numbering Administration: The FCC shall create or designate impartial entities to administer telecommunications numbering and to make such numbers available on an equitable basis.

Sec. 252. Procedures for negotiation, arbitration, and approval of agreements: If a state commission fails to carry out its responsibility in approving or denying any agreement between LECs and telecommunications carriers regarding interconnection, the FCC can preempt the state's jurisdiction within ninety days after being notified of such failure.

Sec. 256. Coordination for interconnectivity: The FCC shall establish procedures for oversight of coordinated network planning by telecommunications carriers for effective and efficient interconnection of public telecommunications networks and for the development of industry standards.

Sec. 258. Illegal changes in subscriber carrier selections: No telecommunications carrier shall submit or execute a change in a subscriber's selection of a provider of telephone exchange service or telephone toll service except in accordance with such verification procedures as the Commission shall prescribe.

Sec. 260. Provision of telemessaging service: The Commission shall establish procedures for the receipt and review of complaints concerning violations of nondiscrimination safeguards by local exchange carriers that provide telemessaging service.

Sec. 102. Eligible telecommunications carriers: If no common carrier will provide the telecommunications services included in the definition of universal service to an unserved community, the Commission with respect to interstate services, or a state commission, with respect to intrastate services, shall determine which common carrier or carriers are best able to provide such service to the requesting unserved community.

Sec. 271. Bell Operating Company entry into interLATA services: The FCC must shall establish procedures for the review of complaints concerning failures by bell operating companies to meet requirements for approval into interLATA services.

Sec. 273. Manufacturing by Bell Operating Companies: The FCC must prescribe regulations for the manufacture and provide telecommunications equipment, and manufacture customer premises equipment by Bell operating companies.

Sec. 274. Electronic publishing by Bell Operating Companies: A separated affiliate or electronic publishing joint venture shall be operated independently from the Bell operating company. The joint venture shall carry out transactions pursuant to written contracts or tariffs that are filed with the Commission and made publicly available, and record any transactions by which such assets are transferred, in accordance with such regulations as may be prescribed by the Commission or a state commission to prevent improper cross-subsidies.

Sec. 629. Competitive Availability of Navigation Devices: The Commission shall, in consultation with appropriate industry standard-setting organizations, adopt regulations to assure commercial availability to consumers of multichannel video programming and other services offered over multichannel video programming systems, of converter boxes, interactive communications equipment, and other equipment used by consumers to access multichannel video programming.

Sec. 705. Mobile services direct access to long distance carriers: The Commission shall prescribe regulations to afford subscribers unblocked access to the provider of telephone toll services of the subscribers' choice through the use of a carrier identification code assigned to such provider or other mechanism.

Sec. 301. Cable Act Reform: The Commission shall review any complaint submitted by a franchising authority concerning an increase in rates for cable programming services and issue a final order within ninety days after it receives such a complaint, unless the parties agree to extend the period for such review.

Rulemaking and Related Proceedings in Date Order

Within One Month: Sec. 707, 714 Telecommunications Development Fund: Appoint representative within one month.

Sec. 254. Universal service: FCC create a Federal-State Joint Board, within one month; Joint Board recommendations to FCC within nine months. FCC initiate rulemaking to implement Joint Board's recommendations within fifteen months. Within Six Months: Sec. 713. Video Programming Accessibility: Rulemaking within six months; rules within eighteen months.

Sec. 653. Establishment of Open Video Systems: Pass regulations within six months.

Sec. 704. Radio Frequency Emission Standards: Rulemaking within six months.

Sec. 251. Interconnection: Rulemaking within six months.

Sec. 207. Restrictions on over-the-air reception devices: Rulemaking within six months.

Sec. 701 Prevention of unfair billing practices for information or services provided over toll-free telephone calls: Rulemaking within six months. Within Nine Months: Sec. 276. Provision of payphone service: Rulemaking within nine months. Withing Fifteen Months: Sec. 257. Market entry barriers proceeding: Complete rulemaking within fifteen months. Within Eighteen Months: Sec. 255. Access by persons with disabilities: Guidelines within eighteen months. Within One Year: Sec. 551. Parental Choice in Television Programming: If no action within one year, Commission action.

Sec. 259. Infrastructure sharing: Rulemaking within one year.

Sec. 34. Exempt telecommunications companies: Rules prescribed within one year. Within Thirty Months: Sec. 706. Advanced telecommunications incentives: NOI within thirty months and complete inquiry within 180 days thereafter. Within Two Years: Sec. 703. Pole Attachments: Regulations prescribed within two years. Within Five Years: Sec. 275. Alarm monitoring services: Establish complaint procedure and review within five years. Every Odd Number Year: Sec. 402. Regulatory Reform: Odd number years, regulation review. No Timeframe Expressed: Sec. 202. Broadcast ownership: Modify regulations. Biennially review.

Sec. 336. Broadcast spectrum flexibility.

Sec. 502. Communications Decency Act of 1995. FCC describe measures to restrict access.

Sec. 403 Elimination of unnecessary commission regulations and functions.

Sec. 251. Numbering Administration. FCC shall create/designate entities to administer.

Sec. 252. Procedures for negotiation, arbitration, and approval of agreements. If State Commission fails, FCC can preempt state jurisdiction ninety days after notice of failure.

Sec. 256. Coordination for interconnectivity. FCC establish procedures for oversight.

Sec. 258. Illegal changes in subscriber carrier selections. FCC prescribe verification procedures.

Sec. 260. Provision of telemessaging service. FCC establish procedures.

Sec. 102. Eligible telecommunications carriers. FCC (as to interstate services) must determine which common carriers are best situated to serve underserved community.

Sec. 271. Bell Operating Company entry into interLATA services. FCC must establish procedures for review of complaints.

Sec. 273. Manufacturing by Bell Operating Companies. FCC must prescribe regulations.

Sec. 274. Electronic publishing by Bell Operating Companies. FCC or State Commission must prescribe regulations to prevent improper cross-subsidies.

Sec. 629. Competitive Availability of Navigation Devices: FCC must adopt regulations in consultation with industry standard-setting organizations.

Sec. 705. Mobile services direct access to long distance carriers: FCC must prescribe regulations.

Sec. 301. Cable Act Reform: FCC must review complaints and issue orders within ninety days after receipt.

Footnotes

1. Unless otherwise specified, all actions are within the time frame stated from "enactment" of the "Telecommunications Act of 1996." The Act was enacted on February 8, 1996.
Return to the location of footnote 1.

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Last updated: 30 December 1996 mkh