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YES! FCC Commissioner O’Rielly joins TCPAWorld Czar for Rare Podcast Interview on Unprecedented–WATCH IT NOW!

FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly joined me this week  through the magic of Squire Patton Boggs’ POWERVision to discuss the TCPA, pending FCC petitions, the big SCOTUS review and so much more.

We cover a lot of ground in the interview, which you obviously need to watch/listen to if you’re at all impacted by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act or the FCC’s recent call blocking rules.

I begin the interview with a sincere round of applause and appreciation the Commissioner for taking action to end the scourge of scam robocalls. Robocalls are down over 50% since October–a fact I wrote about just before the Commissioner joined us.

For his part, Commissioner O’ Rielly was clear that progress could have been made much earlier had prior FCC administrations been less focused on lawsuits:

[Technological changes] should have been done long ago… [we] could be here many years ago.

-FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly on Unprecedented June 1, 2020 (Record Date)

The most important part of the interview for the TCPAWorld faithful, however, was the discussion about pending FCC petitions, which he says might be granted “in the very near term.”

[TCPA petitions might be granted]…in the very near term.

-FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly on Unprecedented June 1, 2020 (Record Date)

As Commissioner O’Rielly suggests “90-95 percent” of these petitions seek “legitimate relief” on behalf of legitimate companies. Indeed, Commissioner O’Rielly was directly supportive of a couple of big-ticket petitions I ask him about (you’ll need to tune in to find out which ones.)

So what’s the hold up? Well, at times, YOU.

The Commissioner was clear that a lack of industry participation to build a complete record is a real problem for the FCC. For instance on the recent ABA petition Commissioner O’Rielly stated he felt the record was “shockingly…fairly thin.”

And a thin record makes it hard for the Commission to move on important items. Over and over in the interview Commissioner O’Rielly explains that the FCC needs “more specificity.. more details”  because “it means more.” Indeed, in order for the FCC to take action the Commission often “needs more specificity… to quantify how important a decision” would be to industry.

To put a fine point on it, if TCPAWorld wants action on TCPA reform industry needs to “make their voices known…gotta raise the temperature” on the Chairman.

[R]aise the temperature.

-FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly on Unprecedented June 1, 2020 (Record Date)

At the same time, however, the Commissioner asked us all to be “respectful” of the huge number of responsibilities Chairman’s Pai officer is tasked with and how difficult prioritizing these matters can be in the time of COVID19.

This all makes good sense, but I couldn’t help but ask him whether the FCC’s non-action might have been prompted by concerns about special interest groups or guys like John Oliver with his famous television bit in which he “robocalled” the FCC. Commissioner O’Rielly was frank and direct in his rejection of that notion:

I didnt find this one all that funny… and I didn’t find that it had any influence. [The FCC] was not scared off.

(As far as I know that is the first time any sitting FCC Commissioner has made a public remark about the John Oliver piece so– you’re welcome TCPAworld.)

I also elicit Commissioner O’Rielly’s take on the big SOCTUS TCPA review. I love that his response includes reference to watching our podcast on the subject–ha. But I was amazed to hear him say he’d like to see SCOTUS strike down the statute:

I’d like to believe the entire thing could be struck down…

-FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly on Unprecedented June 1, 2020 (Record Date)

Wow!

He went on to say that if the statute were struck down it would be an “opportunity” for Congress and the FCC to re-consider the statute and come up with something that is better worded and provides clearer standards.

But the best part of the interview–at least for me–was the Commissioner’s promise of a prompt return:

I’ll be back…I appreciate the opportunity to be here.

-FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly on Unprecedented June 1, 2020 (Record Date)

 

© Copyright 2020 Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLPNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 157

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About this Author

Eric Troutman Class Action Attorney
Of Counsel

Eric Troutman is one of the country’s prominent class action defense lawyers and is nationally recognized in Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) litigation and compliance. He has served as lead defense counsel in more than 70 national TCPA class actions and has litigated nearly a thousand individual TCPA cases in his role as national strategic litigation counsel for major banks and finance companies. He also helps industry participants build TCPA-compliant processes, policies, and systems.

Eric has built a national litigation practice based upon deep experience, rigorous...

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