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House FCC Oversight Hearing Scheduled for Feb. 15 - Broadcasting & Cable

House FCC Oversight Hearing Scheduled for Feb. 15

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FCC commissioners can now mark February 15 on their calendars. That's when the House Telecommunications and Internet subcommittee will hold an oversight hearing on the FCC.

The commissioners are already scheduled to go before the Senate Commerce Committee on Thursday February 1 for a grilling on various subjects.

As expected, the committee Democrats have some questions for the commissioners on media ownership, the AT&T/Bell South merger, spectrum policy, and how studies are commissioned.

In a letter to the commissioners Wednesday, Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and House Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) sent a list of questions they would like to have the answers to, including the following


Questions for Chairman Martin and Commissioner Tate
1.  In your Joint Statement accompanying the Commission's News Release announcing approval of the AT&T-BellSouth merger, you stated as follows:  "[t]here are certain conditions, however, that are not self-effectuating or cannot be accomplished by AT&T alone.  To the extent Commission action is required to effectuate these conditions as a policy going forward, we specifically do not support those aspects of the conditions and will oppose such policies going forward."

A. When you stated that you "do not support" some of the merger conditions, did you mean that you voted against those conditions?  If so, which condition or conditions did you not support or vote against?

B. If both of you did not support the same subset of merger conditions as implied in your Joint Statement, how is it that the AT&T-BellSouth merger is legally deemed approved?

C. What is your authority to vote to approve an order and then refuse to implement it?  Please identify and describe the provisions of the Communications Act, sections of the FCC's rules and other legal authority, if any, supporting your answer.
D. You further stipulate in your Joint Statement that "a minority of Commissioners cannot alter Commission precedent or bind future Commission decisions, policies, actions, or rules."  What is the "minority of Commissioners" to which you referred?  On what basis did you determine that a "minority" existed for purposes of interpreting precedent or any future agency action?

Questions for All Federal Communications Commission Members
1.  Broadband Policy
A. What is your assessment of broadband deployment, access, and affordability in the United States?  What steps would you support the Commission taking to make broadband services (a) more accessible; (b) more affordable and (c) more robust? Are there other actions you would recommend be taken to promote further broadband deployment?
B. What is your assessment of the definitions and methodology the Commission uses to gauge broadband deployment, access, and affordability in the United States? Are there other actions you would recommend be taken to improve such definitions or methodologies?

2.  Wireless and Spectrum Policy
A. Do you believe the commercial mobile service market is more or less competitive than it was five years ago?  Do you believe that consumers in the commercial mobile service market would benefit from additional competitors?
B. What actions, if any, do you believe the Commission should take, consistent with the Communications Act, to avoid "excessive concentration of licenses" and to disseminate licenses "among a wide variety of applicants, including small businesses, rural telephone companies, and businesses owned by members of minority groups and women"?
C. What actions, if any, do you believe the Commission should take with regard to spectrum management?


3.  Digital Television Transition
A. What general steps can the Commission take to enhance the level of preparedness of our nation for the upcoming digital television transition (DTV) in February of 2009?
B. What specific actions do you support the Commission taking with respect to the broadcasting, cable, programming content, manufacturing, or retail sector to enhance consumer education about the DTV transition?


4. Overall Commission Policies
A. In each of the major areas of the Commission's authority (e.g., wireline, wireless, universal service, broadcast radio and television, cable services, satellite, public safety, international), what actions, if any, do you believe the Commission should take?


5. Commission Process and Functioning
A. What steps, if any, can the Commission take to enhance the depth and accuracy of its collection of data and analysis of affected industries?

B. What steps, if any, can the Commission take to better prevent waste, fraud, or abuse in programs it administers?


C. What steps, if any, can the Commission take to enhance communications with the public in rulemakings and adjudication proceedings before the Commission?




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