FCC Commissioners Face Criticism At Senate Commerce Committee Oversight Hearing
September 15, 2016 at 12:24 PM (PT)
The FCC Commissioners headed to Capitol Hill TODAY (9/15) for another Senate Commerce Committee oversight hearing, and the panel opened with committee Chairman JOHN THUNE (R-SD) ripping Chairman TOM WHEELER for the partisan nature of proceedings before the agency, reports BROADCASTING AND CABLE.
THUNE noted that 25 issues were decided on party-line 3-2 votes under WHEELER, more than in the previous 20 years, and asked why the agency is not seeking bipartisan solutions, adding criticism of leaks and "divisive leadership." While Sen. BILL NELSON (D-FL) responded that the divisiveness reflects the partisan nature of WASHINGTON today, THUNE noted that his own committee has reached bipartisan solutions and he and NELSON agreed that the Commission should look to do the same.
NELSON, along with other Democrats on the panel, called for the Senate Republican majority to bring FCC Commissioner JESSICA ROSENWORCEL's renomination up for a vote as soon as possible; the vote has been indefinitely delayed despite promises by the Republicans to confirm ROSENWORCEL in exchange for MIKE O'RIELLY's confirmation.
The hearing concentrated on issues like WHEELER's controversial set-top box plan, changes to which WHEELER told the panel he is open; WHEELER offered to take out at least one provision if it will help gain support for the proposal, which would push cable operators to move to app-based distribution.
WHEELER's prepared remarks discussed the progress of the television spectrum incentive auction, 5G spectrum and business data services, the set-top box plan, privacy, robocalls, lifeline modernization, the open Internet, next-gen 911, and cybersecurity. Commissioner AJIT PAI stressed his support for the move of television to ATSC 3.0 and discussed public safety (911 issues) and freeing up spectrum for 5G and other technologies. And Commissioner MIGNON CLYBURN talked about her tour of the country and independent video programming, health, and 5G issues.