When someone "lobbies" the FCC on issues pending in a rulemaking proceeding or other contested case, the Commission requires that there be a certain amount of disclosure of the communications made to Commission decision-making personnel. The rules governing the communications with the FCC’s decision-making personnel in such cases are called the "ex parte" rules. These rules preclude some communications entirely (e.g. oral communications trying to influence a decision in a contested individual case unless all parties to the case are present, or any presentations in rulemakings in the last week before the FCC meeting at which it will be considered), and allow some communications, but with disclosure to the public (e.g. comments made to FCC Commissioners by parties, written or oral, in rulemaking proceedings). The FCC has just commenced a new proceeding to look at whether the disclosures that are made after some of the communications with decision makers are detailed enough, and also whether new technologies used by the FCC (like its Blogs for various subjects including the blog dedicated to comments on the Future of the Media Proceeding, about we’ve written before) make some of the ex parte rules outmoded.
A full summary of the proceeding is available in our Davis Wright Tremaine advisory, here. Comments are due 45 days after the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in this proceeding is published in the Federal Register.