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FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski Announces Increased Coordination with Department of Justice for Merger Review 2010.08.07

Washington, D.C., USA - August 5, 2010 - Today, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski announced that FCC staff has begun consultations with staff of the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ) about how the two agencies can apply their different statutory standards to wireless merger divestitures in a more coordinated manner.

FCC Commissioners: Commissioner Clyburn, Commissioner Copps, Chairman Genachowski, Commissioner McDowell, Commissioner Baker (October 2009).
Photo: The FCC
 

Washington, D.C., USA - August 5, 2010

Today, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski announced that FCC staff has begun consultations with staff of the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ) about how the two agencies can apply their different statutory standards to wireless merger divestitures in a more coordinated manner.

In April 2010, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau approved Verizon Wireless’s divestitures to Atlantic Tele-Network in connection with Verizon Wireless’s acquisition of ALLTEL.
See below: FCC News Release, Statement of Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn on the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau’s Consent to the Transfer of Licenses from Verizon Wireless to Atlantic Tele-Network (April 20, 2010).

It was noted at the time that, while the Commission encouraged procedures to facilitate Verizon Wireless’s transaction-related divestiture of certain properties to entities such as small businesses and new entrants, DOJ’s consent decree in the Verizon Wireless/ALLTEL transaction emphasized the importance of divesting to a strong competitor.

In a separate statement commenting on the Bureau’s approval, Commissioner Clyburn observed that
“Verizon Wireless had limited or no guidance about what procedures it should implement to reconcile the Commission’s and DOJ’s potentially discordant goals.”

Because DOJ and FCC have overlapping jurisdiction for review of proposed communication mergers, the two agencies work together when reviewing proposed transactions and have recently taken several steps to strengthen that coordination.
Today’s announcement makes clear that divestiture issues will be an important part of this ongoing process.

Chairman Genachowski said,
“Increased coordination between DOJ and the FCC on divestitures will benefit small businesses, new entrants and all parties to merger transactions. I am particularly grateful to Commissioner Clyburn for highlighting this issue, and for her focus on, insight into and contributions to ensuring our progress in this area.”


News Media Contacts:

Jen Howard, 202-418-0506
Jen.Howard@fcc.gov


Washington, D.C., USA - August 5, 2010

Statement of

Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn on Chairman Genachowski’s Announcement that FCC Staff will increase its coordination with Department Of Justice for Merger Review


“I am very grateful to Chairman Genachowski for his leadership in promoting further coordination between the staffs of the FCC and the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ), in order to ensure that both agencies fulfill their respective public interest goals, when they require divestitures resulting from their reviews of proposed transactions.”

“In addition to such increased coordination, I believe it is crucial that specific guidance is provided to both interested buyers and sellers, so that both DOJ’s requirements and the FCC’s policy goals are satisfied. I look forward to working with the Chairman’s Office and staff, on the specific guidance that the FCC should make available to all relevant entities in the divestiture process, to ensure that small businesses and new entrants have a realistic opportunity to purchase communications assets in the future.”


http://www.fcc.gov/  


Statement of

Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn on The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau’s Consent to the Transfer of Licenses from Verizon Wireless to Atlantic Tele-Network


Washington, D.C., USA - April 20, 2010

This proceeding, which led to the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau approving Verizon Wireless’ request, in June 2009, to divest spectrum licenses and assets to Atlantic Tele-Network, is Exhibit A why the Commission must review the way in which it provides guidance and the substance of its guidance to divesting licensees.

FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn.
Mignon L. Clyburn was nominated as a member of the Federal Communications Commission on June 25, 2009, and sworn in August 3, 2009. Her term runs until June 30, 2012.
Photo: The FCC
 
If the Commission does not take a hard look at how we approach such divestitures, we undoubtedly will squander golden opportunities to open up the wireless landscape to new entrants and small businesses that can provide competition and bring a new spirit to the wireless world.

The properties the Commission ordered Verizon Wireless to divest in this proceeding are worth billions of dollars.

They also provide a rare, and promising, opportunity for new entrants and smaller wireless service providers to acquire assets and provide competitive alternatives to larger carriers.
As such, various parties had asked the Commission to impose conditions requiring a process that would ensure regional, local, or new wireless providers have a meaningful opportunity to acquire the divested assets.

Rather than imposing such conditions, however, the Commission chose instead merely to “encourage” Verizon Wireless to consider and implement mechanisms to assist such providers, new entrants, small businesses, and businesses owned by minorities or socially disadvantaged groups in acquiring the divested assets.

It is clear that by simply “encouraging” Verizon Wireless to affirmatively take actions that would further the Commission’s longstanding goals in this arena, the Commission issued an order with limited teeth on this score.

Without any affirmative directive regarding the specific ways in which Verizon Wireless should assist regional, local, and rural wireless providers, new entrants, small businesses, and businesses owned by minorities or socially disadvantaged groups in seeking to acquire Divestiture Assets, the Commission circumscribed its ability to foster a positive environment for these entities.

Further complicating matters is that Verizon Wireless and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) entered into a consent decree that suggests Verizon Wireless should seek to divest to strong business entities with the ability to compete effectively in providing wireless communications services.

It appears that Verizon Wireless had limited or no guidance about what procedures it should implement to reconcile the Commission’s and DOJ’s potentially discordant goals.

There also was no process established through which Verizon Wireless could approach the Commission with any questions it might have nor was there guidance suggesting that the Commission should monitor the divestiture process to ensure compliance with the goals in its divestiture order.

In my view, it is time we address these important concerns in order to effectuate our stated aims.
It is important that we have a process that is clear, that is coordinated across government, and that enables new entrants and small businesses to have a realistic opportunity to enjoy the fruits of such divestitures.

I look forward to working with my colleagues and the Bureau in order to ensure a more robust process in the future.


News Media Contact:

Rick Kaplan, (202) 418-2100
Email: Rick.Kaplan@fcc.gov


http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-297636A1.pdf  


About the FCC


The Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
is an independent United States government agency.

 
 
The FCC
was established by the Communications Act of 1934 and is charged with regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable.

The FCC headquarters is located in a 10-story building called Portals II, located in Washington DC.
Photo: The FCC
 
The FCC's jurisdiction
covers the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. possessions.


Organization

The FCC is directed by five Commissioners appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate for 5-year terms, except when filling an unexpired term.
The President designates one of the Commissioners to serve as Chairperson.
Only three Commissioners may be members of the same political party.
None of them can have a financial interest in any Commission-related business.

As the chief executive officer of the Commission, the Chairman delegates management and administrative responsibility to the Managing Director.

The Commissioners supervise all FCC activities, delegating responsibilities to staff units and Bureaus.

http://www.fcc.gov/aboutus.html  


FCC Commissioners


The FCC is directed by five Commissioners appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate for 5-year terms, except when filling an unexpired term.

The President designates one of the Commissioners to serve as Chairperson.
Only three Commissioners may be members of the same political party. None of them can have a financial interest in any Commission-related business.


http://www.fcc.gov/commissioners/  


Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554

News and information about the Federal Communications Commission is available at

www.fcc.gov  



Julius Genachowski
FCC Chairman


FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski
Photo: The FCC
 
Julius Genachowski
was nominated by President Barack Obama to a seat on the Federal Communications Commission on March 23, 2009.
He was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate on June 25, 2009, and sworn in as FCC Commissioner on June 29, 2009.

http://www.fcc.gov/commissioners/genachowski/  



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