Senate Bill Seeks Greater FCC Technical Resources

December 16, 2009

Washington - Dec 14, 2009 - Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) introduced Senate bill S. 2881 titled The FCC Commissioners' Technical Resource Enhancement Act. The bill's basic purpose is to provide greater technical resources to FCC Commissioners. The bill is cosponsored by Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA).

The bill would amend Section 4(f)(2) of the Communications Act of 1934 to add: "Each commissioner may also appoint an electrical engineer or computer scientist to provide the commissioner technical consultation when appropriate and to interface with the Office of Engineering and Technology, Commission Bureaus, and other technical staff of the Commission for additional technical input and resources, provided that such engineer or scientist holds an undergraduate or graduate degree from an institution of higher education in their respective field of expertise."

The last serious attempt to increase the technical resources within the Commissioner's offices was in October 1991 when then Rep. Don Ritter introduced HR. 3501, which would have required that at least one member of the Commission be skilled in the engineering sciences. Senator Snowe's bill would not seek to replace any of the existing staff assistants in each Commissioner's office but rather authorize each Commissioner to add one assistant.

The Society of Broadcast Engineers, as part of its legislative agenda, has sought greater technical expertise on the commission for many years. Vinny Lopez, CEV CBNT, president of the Society of Broadcast Engineers, remarked, "Ensuring the technical integrity of the FCC decision-making is perhaps our most important legislative goal. This legislation will go a long way toward returning technical expertise to the FCC Commissioner's offices." Lopez added, "We encourage other members of the Senate to support this well crafted legislation. SBE will seek the introduction of a companion bill in the House and we will urge rapid passage of both Bills in the House and the Senate."

The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

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