FCC Commissioners Face House Oversight Panel, Debate Open Internet Order Again
March 20, 2015 at 3:51 AM (PT)
THURSDAY was the House's turn to grill the five FCC Commissioners, who appeared at a House Energy and Commerce Committee oversight hearing to spar with panel Chairman GREG WALDEN (R-OR) and other members of Congress over the Commission's process, Net neutrality, and other issues.
MULTICHANNEL NEWS reports that WALDEN excoriated the agency for overreaching and being "mired in procedural failures" like not releasing the Open Internet order before bringing it to a vote; ranking member ANNA ESHOO (D-CA) was more kindly inclined towards the Commission's reclassification of Internet service providers under Title II of the Communications Act ("the American people finally won one, and it was big").
The panel then covered similar ground to the Senate panel the day before (NET NEWS 3/19), with FCC Chairman TOM WHEELER defending the Commission's actions and Commissioner AJIT PAI listing elements of the Open Internet order that had not been in the original Notice of Proposed Rulemaking; the Republicans on the panel raised again the issue of whether the order opens the door for rate regulation, to which WHEELER responded that he hopes someone files a complaint about rates so the Commission can respond by establishing a case record that shows "the FCC is not in the consumer rate regulation business."
WHEELER also told Rep. YVETTE CLARK (D-NY) that he does not support a government mandate to order cell phone carriers to activate FM chips in cell phones, to which the NAB responded after the hearing that the NAB is not seeking a government mandate but is looking for the NAB's influence to help enable the technology.
Watch C-SPAN's coverage of the entire hearing here: