Report calls to merge FTC, FCC

The right-leaning American Enterprise Institute wants to merge the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

In a comment submitted to the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Friday, a team of scholars affiliated with the think tank argues that the country’s communications law should be rewritten to combine the “FCC’s industry expertise and capabilities with the generic statutory authority of the FTC.” 

They criticized the FCC’s current “silo-based” approach, which applies different rules to different forms of communication, like television and telephone service.  

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The agency’s current structure “is a poor fit for the modern, converged, communications marketplace,” they wrote.

For instance, the Communications Act “raises questions and creates uncertainty” about the FCC’s regulation of the Internet, as was recently displayed in a U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruling that threw out the FCC’s net neutrality rules.

“More broadly, it is our view that many of the important functions and resources currently housed in the Commission can be redeployed – not eliminated – to yield a more coherent and streamlined regulatory edifice that would more effectively serve the goals of consumers, competitors, and Congress,” they told lawmakers.

The Energy and Commerce Committee solicited ideas from the public on the best way to overhaul the Communications Act, which has not been updated since 1996. The effort is expected to take years, but lawmakers got the process going in a hearing with former heads of the FCC earlier this month.