Study exposes FCC leaks

Lobbyists, corporations tipped off before public

WASHINGTON — Information about pending Federal Communications Commission regulatory decisions often gets into the hands of lobbyists and corporate insiders before it is released to the general public, a new federal study has found.

Study, requested by Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and conducted by the Government Accountability Office, focused on four recent FCC rulemaking procedures and found that in each case, “Some stakeholders had access to nonpublic information that could give them an advantage in the rulemaking process.” FCC rules prohibit such leaks.

The FCC should “take steps to ensure equal access to information by making sure that nonpublic information is safeguarded from disclosure,” the study’s authors recommended.

“The FCC has a duty to be above-board in developing and implementing its rules,” Markey said in a statement. Markey is chairman of the House Telecom and Internet Subcommittee, which has oversight of FCC activity.

“When the ‘corporate insiders’ and ‘K-Street’ crowd have the inside track on decisions critical to telecommunications, media, broadband or wireless policy, then the public and consumers are at an inherent disadvantage,” Markey continued. “Both the law and the public interest require that rulemaking decisions adhere to principles of openness and objectivity.”

An FCC spokesman responded: “The commission actively reaches out and works with consumer and public interest groups, not only industry. We have always been very open and transparent about what is on circulation, and we are exploring ways in which we can make our processes even more open and transparent.”