Federal Communications Commission: Direct Broadcast Satellite Public Interest Obligations

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1999-02-11.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

      United States
GAO   General Accounting Office
      Washington, D.C. 20548

      Office of the General Counsel


      February 11, 1999

      The Honorable John McCain
      The Honorable Ernest F. Hollings
      Ranking Minority Member
      Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
      United States Senate

      The Honorable Thomas J. Bliley, Jr.
      The Honorable John D. Dingell
      Ranking Minority Member
      Committee on Commerce
      House of Representatives

      Subject:   Federal Communications Commission: Direct Broadcast Satellite Public
                 Interest Obligations

      Pursuant to section 801(a)(2)(A) of title 5, United States Code, this is our report on
      a major rule promulgated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC),
      entitled "Direct Broadcast Satellite Public Interest Obligations" (MM Docket 93-25;
      FCC 98-307). We received the rule on December 29, 1998. It was published in the
      Federal Register as a final rule on February 8, 1999. 64 Fed. Reg. 5951.

      The final rule imposes requirements on Direct Broadcast Satellite Service (DBS)
      providers to comply with the political broadcast rules of the Communications Act of
      1934, as amended, and mandates that the DBS providers reserve between 4 percent
      and 7 percent of their channel capacity exclusively for "noncommercial
      programming of an educational or informational nature."

      Enclosed is our assessment of the FCC's compliance with the procedural steps
      required by section 801(a)(1)(B)(i) through (iv) of title 5 with respect to the rule.
      Our review indicates that the FCC complied with the applicable requirements.

      If you have any questions about this report, please contact James Vickers, Assistant
      General Counsel, at (202) 512-8210. The official responsible for GAO evaluation

work relating to the Federal Communications Commission is Judy England-Joseph,
Director for Housing and Community Development Issues. Ms. England-Joseph can
be reached at (202) 512-7631.

Robert P. Murphy
General Counsel


cc: Ms. Kathleen Fagan
    AMD-Performance Evaluation and
     Records Management
    Federal Communications Commission

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       ANALYSIS UNDER 5 U.S.C. § 801(a)(1)(B)(i)-(iv) OF A MAJOR RULE
                                ISSUED BY
                     (MM Docket 93-25; FCC 98-307)

(i) Cost-benefit analysis

The FCC, in its report to our Office, states that it was not required to prepare and
did not prepare a cost-benefit analysis of the final rule.

(ii) Agency actions relevant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 603-605,
607, and 609

The FCC prepared an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis in connection with the
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and a Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis in
issuing the final rule.

The analyses comply with the requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act,
including the number and description of the small entities affected by the rule, the
steps taken to minimize the burdens on small entities, and alternatives that were
considered. The final analysis finds that the operational DBS licensees are not
small entities and it cannot estimate the number of small entities in the remaining
non-operational licensees because of a lack of revenue information.

The final analysis concludes that there will be minimal economic impact on small
entities because there are only minor recordkeeping burdens imposed.

(iii) Agency actions relevant to sections 202-205 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform
Act of 1995, 2 U.S.C. §§ 1532-1535

As an independent regulatory agency, the FCC is not subject to title II of the
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995.

(iv) Other relevant information or requirements under acts and executive orders

Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.

The final rule was issued using the notice and comment procedures contained at
5 U.S.C. § 553. On March 2, 1993, the FCC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

and received 68 comments and 48 reply comments in response to the Notice and a
subsequent Public Notice published in 1997.

Paperwork Reduction Act, 44 U.S.C. §§ 3501-3520

The final rule contains a new information collection which is subject to approval by
the Office of Management and Budget. The preamble to the final rule contains the
information required by the act.

The collection will be used by the FCC to monitor DBS providers' compliance with
the public interest obligations. FCC estimates there will be 8 respondents, the
average response time will be 12 hours, and the total annual burden will be 96

Statutory authorization for the rule

The final rule is issued pursuant to the authority of Sections 4, 303, 309, 335, and
634 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. §§ 154, 303, 309, 335,
and 554.

Executive Order No. 12866

The rule, promulgated by an independent regulatory agency, is not subject to the
review requirements of Executive Order No. 12866.

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