Proposals to Streamline Federal and State Regulatory Review of Transactions in the Communications Industry

Posted by Social Science Research Network

Proposals to Streamline Federal and State Regulatory Review of Transactions in the Communications Industry

By Samuel Feder (Jenner & Block LLP)

Abstract:     Companies operating in the communications industry must pass through a series of regulatory requirements before they can engage in most transactions commonplace in other industries. In addition to being subject to the same antitrust laws as other companies, they face additional oversight by the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) and state public utilities commissions (“PUCs”). Whether engaging in significant transactions (such as acquisitions or mergers) or even small ones (such as intra-family corporate reorganizations or taking on secured debt), companies holding communications licenses frequently must obtain signoffs from both state and multiple federal regulators before their transactions can move forward.

As a general rule — absent a conclusion by the antitrust authorities that a transaction would harm competition in relevant markets — the public interest is best served by allowing willing market participants freely to allocate resources and assets. The processes by which the FCC and state PUCs review applications for proposed transactions, however, is marked by significant obstacles to the ability of transacting companies (“applicants”) to complete transactions on a reasonably prompt and predictable schedule. These o…

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