Reps. Barney Frank and Jim McGovern (both D-Mass.) introduced legislation to rein in cable rates. "The unregulated cable-TV industry has pushed cable rates up at almost three times the rate of inflation," Frank said. The bill would return authority to the FCC to act on consumer complaints about cable operators. It lost that authority in the 1996 Telecommunications Act.
Cable rates have been rising in the districts Frank represents. Some of those increases are attributed to migration of New England Sports Network (NESN) from the premium tier to expanded basic, although a spokesman for Frank said the bill wasn't necessarily connected to those increases. NESN, which is co-owned by the Boston Red Sox and the Boston Bruins, formerly cost subscribers $9.95 per month. Some subscribers were happy to see it move because it lowered their cable bills. But others who had not previously taken NESN were not happy with the extra $1.50 to $2 per month.
Jane Mago has been named FCC general counsel after holding the job in an acting capacity since January. Mago had served as deputy chief of the FCC Enforcement Bureau since November 1999. Named deputy general counsel was John Rogovin, a partner at O'Melveny & Myers, the firm that once employed Powell. Linda Blair, chief of the Mass Media Bureau's audio division, joins the Enforcement Bureau as associate chief. Lisa Fowlkes was named assistant chief of the enforcement bureau. She had been a legal adviser to the bureau.