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HR 4019, Telecommunications Merger Review Act of 2000, as amended by the House Telecom Subcommittee on June 27, 2000.
Re: limiting the antitrust merger review authority of the FCC.
Sponsor: Rep. Chip Pickering (R-MS).

Editor's Notes:
  Tech Law Journal took an electronic copy of HR 4019 IH provided by the Library of Congress, and incorporated the four amendments to HR 4019 that were adopted by the House Telecommunications Subcommittee on June 27, 2000.
  Tech Law Journal scanned and converted into HTML paper copies of the amendments provided by the House Commerce Committee.
  Deleted language is shown in bold strikethrough. Additional language is shown in bold italics.
  See also, Tech Law Journal summary of bills pertaining to telecom antitrust merger reviews.
  Copyright Tech Law Journal. All rights reserved.


106th CONGRESS
2d Session
H. R. 4019

To place certain constraints and limitations on the authority of the Federal Communications Commission to review mergers and to impose conditions on licenses and other authorizations assigned or transferred in the course of mergers or other transactions.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

March 16, 2000  June 27, 2000

Mr. PICKERING (for himself, Mr. BURR of North Carolina, Mr. TAUZIN, Mr. DINGELL, Mr. BOUCHER, Mr. KLINK, Mr. GREEN of Texas, Mr. HALL of Texas, Mr. LARGENT, Mr. OXLEY, Mr. DEAL of Georgia, and Mr. FOSSELLA) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Commerce


A BILL

To place certain constraints and limitations on the authority of the Federal Communications Commission to review mergers and to impose conditions on licenses and other authorizations assigned or transferred in the course of mergers or other transactions.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the `Telecommunications Merger Review Act of 2000'.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

The Congress finds the following:

    (1) The process by which the Federal Communications Commission currently reviews, and imposes conditions upon, the transfer or assignment of permits or licenses in the context of a merger, or other conveyance of corporate control, is in need of reform.

    (2) Currently, the Federal Communications Commission's review of telecommunications industry mergers often results in undue delay and introduces uncertainty into the marketplace because of the unpredictable standards for that review.

    (3) The Communications Act of 1934 does not empower the Federal Communications Commission, in a review of a transfer or assignment of licenses, to duplicate the work of the Department of Justice or the Federal Trade Commission when reviewing a merger or acquisition.

    (4) The Federal Communications Commission should only deny, and should impose only those conditions on, the transfer or assignment of licenses under the Communications Act of 1934 as necessary to ensure that applicants are in compliance with existing Commission rules and regulations.

SEC. 3. MODIFICATION OF AUTHORITY TO DENY OR CONDITION LICENSES.

Title IV of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 401 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

`SEC. 417. LIMITATION ON COMMISSION AUTHORITY.

Editor's Note: Stearns amendment.

    `(a) LIMITATIONS.---In any proceeding Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act (including sections 4(i) and 201(b)), in any proceeding to approve an application to assign or transfer control of a license, permit, or certificate pursuant to the provisions of section 214 or 310, the Commission---

      `(1) may not deny such application unless---

        `(A) the assignment or transfer of control will result in a violation of the Commission's rules and regulations in effect on the date such application is received by the Commission; and

        `(B) such violation cannot be cured by the conditional approval of the assignment or transfer of control pursuant to the provisions of paragraph (2);

      `(2) may not condition approval of such application except to the extent necessary to---

        `(A) ensure that the assignee or transferee is in compliance with all Commission rules and regulations in effect on the date of such approval; or

        Editor's Note: Pickering amendment, part 1.

        `(B) permit the orderly disposition of assets to comply with such rules and regulations; and except that the Commission may not subsequently enforce any condition imposed to ensure compliance with a rule or regulation that is repealed or invalidated;

      "(3) may not deny any such application on the ground that, such application is incomplete unless---

        "(A) the Commission's rule and regulations in effect on the date such application is received specify the information required to be included with such application; and

        "(B) the application falls to include such information;

      "(4) may not deny any such application unless the Commission includes lit it's report and order denying such application a statement of the particular reasons for the denial, including a specification of the particular rules mid regulations that would be violated by the assignment or transfer of control; and

      `(3) shall complete all action on any such application within 90 days after the date of receipt by the Commission of the application, unless the applicant requests an extension.

    `(b) SHORTER DEADLINE FOR CERTAIN ACQUISITIONS.---In connection with an acquisition, directly or indirectly, by one local exchange carrier or its affiliate of the securities or assets of another local exchange carrier or its affiliates in which the acquiring carrier or its affiliate does not, and by reason of the acquisition will not, have direct or indirect ownership or control of more than 2 percent of the subscriber lines installed in the aggregate in the United States, the deadline under subsection (a)(3) shall be 60 days after the date of receipt of the application, unless the applicant requests an extension.'.

    Editor's Notes: This is the Green amendment. The Pickering amendment, part 2, is also designated as subsection (c). The ordering and lettering may be changed.

    "(c) JUDICIAL REVIEW.---

      "(1) BURDEN OF PROOF.---In any, appeal of a decision denying or approving with conditions any application to assign or transfer control of a license, permit, or certificate pursuant to the provisions of sections 214 or 310 of this Act, the Commission shall have the burden of proving that its actions are consistent With the provisions of this section.

      "(2) CONDITIONAL APPROVALS REVIEWABLE.---Any conditional approval of any such application shall be considered a denial of such application for purposes of section 402(b) of this Act.".

      Editor's Note: Pickering amendment, part 2.

    "(c) EFFECT OF FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH DEADLINES.---If the Commission falls to complete all actions on an application within the deadlines established by subsection (a)(3) and (b), such application shall be deemed to be approved without conditions.".

    Editor's Note: Oxley amendment.

SEC. 4. PROCEDURAL REQUIREMENTS FOR CONGRESSIONAL COMMUNICATIONS.

Section 4(j) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 154(j)) is amended---

    (1) by inserting "(1)" after "(j)"; and

    (2) by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

      "(2)(A) Except as provided in subparagraph (C), no member (including the chairman), officer, or employee of the Commission shall take any action---

          "(i) to express the support or opposition of the Commission for any legislation or appropriation, or "(ii) to request or suggest on behalf of the Commission that any organization, entity, or person should communicate to any Member of Congress the support or opposition of the organization, entity, or person for any legislation or appropriation, unless such action has been approved by majority vote of the Commission.

        "(B) After an action described in clause (i) or (ii) of subparagraph (A) has been approved by majority vote, such action may only be carried out the members of the Commission (including the chairman) and the staffs in the offices of such members, and may not be carried out by the officers or employees of any other bureau, office, or other component of the Commission.

        "(C) Subparagraph (A) shall not prohibit any member of the Commission (including the chairman) from expressing the individual opinion of such member With respect to any legislation or appropriation.

        "(D) Nothing in this paragraph authorizes any conduct in violation of section 1913 of title 18, United States Code. ".

SEC.  4  5. EFFECTIVE DATE.

(a) IN GENERAL.---The amendment made by section 3 shall apply with respect to any application for a license or authorization described in section 417(a) of the Communications Act of 1934 (as added by this Act) that is pending on, or submitted to the Federal Communications Commission on or after, the date of enactment of this Act.

(b) DEADLINES FOR PENDING APPLICATIONS.---With respect to any such application pending before the Federal Communications Commission for more than 30 days as of the date of enactment of this Act, the Commission shall, notwithstanding section 417(a)(3) of such Act (as so added), complete all action on any such application within 60 days after such date of enactment, unless the applicant requests an extension.

 

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