Lawmakers ask for data on FCC backlog

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 According to the lawmakers, the FCC had 5,328 petitions, more than 1 million consumer complaints, and 4,185 license applications that were unanswered and at least two years old as of July 2011.

Walden and Stearns are pushing two bills that they say will improve accountability and transparency at the FCC, but Democrats argue the measures are a ploy to hamstring the regulatory agency.

The measures would require the FCC to identify a market failure, consumer harm or regulatory barrier to investment before adopting new regulations. The agency would then have to demonstrate that the benefits of its proposed regulations outweigh their costs.

The bills would restrict the types of conditions that the FCC could impose on corporate mergers, only allowing the agency to address specific harms related to the proposed deals.

The bills would also codify the FCC's informal "shot clock" for its reviews so that parties could know when to expect decisions.

Stearns and Walden requested a response from Genachowski by Jan. 9.