Attorney David Balto, an anti-trust attorney and former policy director at the Federal Trade Commission, wrote an insightful article posted on The Hill.com about the Federal Communications Commissions’ staff paper released late last week. The gist of Mr. Balto’s argument is that the paper will have little, if any, impact on the lawsuit filed by the United States Department of Justice to block the AT&T, T-Mobile merger.
Release of this working paper was irresponsible. The FCC has opened itself up to having anyone subpoena its work product and use it in a court proceeding.
In addition, the FCC seems to be on a mission to confuse the public on what its role is.
With net neutrality and the notion of reclassifying broadband as a Title II service, the FCC sought to make itself out to be an uber-legislative body, willing to circumvent Congress.
With AT&T/T-Mobile, the FCC wants to play trust buster. That is not its role. It is supposed to apply its ambiguous public interest standard to the issue of whether or not wireless licenses are to be transferred from T-Mobile to AT&T. If you read the title for Docket 11-65 it says as much.
If the FCC wants to file an amicus brief, it should go through the process for certifying such a request and enter its views into the court record.
The FCC’s behavior was reckless and such tactics are best left to media manipulators, community organizers, and grass roots advocacy groups.