The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been rebuffed yet again by the courts in its effort to relax tariff filing requirements for nondominant common carriers. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit thwarted the FCC's latest attempt, rejecting proposed rules that would permit the nondominant carriers to file a range of rates rather than fixed rates tied to a schedule of charges.
The courts had earlier overturned a series of FCC rulings. In those cases, the courts denied the FCC authority to allow the detariffing, citing the Federal Communications Act of 1934: "[e]very common carrier . . . shall . . . file" tariffs with the FCC. In its recent case, the FCC argued that the Communications Act does not precisely define the type filing required, and therefore permits a tariff containing a range of rates. As in the past, the FCC claimed that strict tariff requirements were counterproductive and inhibited price competition in the marketplace. The circuit court rejected this argument, however, finding that the Communications Act clearly requires all carriers to file "schedules showing all charges." Relying heavily on a 1994 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court concerning FCC authority to modify legislative requirements (MCI Telecommunications Corp. v. AT&T 114 S.Ct. 223), the circuit court ruled that the FCC must take its case to the Congress if it believes that existing legislative mandates are inadequate under current market conditions. Southwestern Bell Corp. et al. v. Federal Communications Commission, Nos. 93-1562 et al., Jan 20, 1995 (D.C.Cir.).
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