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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The soul of wit, but maybe not fairness

The FCC has unveiled a new procedure for handling some appeals.  Instead of releasing an Order granting or denying appeals, for "pending matters that do not involve complicated and/or
controversial issues," the FCC will release a Public Notice with a list of winners and losers.  You can see the first such list at the end of the notice.

Is this a good thing?  Well, it's a lot better than secret appeal decisions.  And really, it's not much a change from the brusque orders (like this one) that they've been issuing since at least 2010.  It seems fine for the granting of fairly routine requests for waiver, and even some appeals.

But it doesn't seem quite right in the case of denials.  Applicants presumably thought they had good reason for their waiver or appeal to be granted.  To deny them with no explanation seems a bit harsh.  But I guess it isn't any better if the FCC just says: "We also deny 32 requests because we find that the petitioners failed to present special circumstances to justify a waiver of the Commission’s rules."  It's too bad we can't get the FCC to say, "Departure of key personnel is not a reason for a waiver" (that was the basis for the waiver request from one applicant).

Most confounding, one of the applicants (Anthony ISD) had their waiver request granted in a recent order, but denied in this order.  That case seems complex enough to warrant a little explanation.

So it's not great, but if it helps clear the backlog of appeals, I'm OK with it.

If, however, they're going to try to use this as a way to quietly dispose of the 6-year pile-up of Cost-Effectiveness Review appeals, I'll be squawking loudly.  I don't like the FCC practice of embedding rules in appeal rulings, but it's better than rulings that don't tell you what rules were applied.

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