Sen. Grassley Wants More LightSquared Info - Broadcasting & Cable

Sen. Grassley Wants More LightSquared Info

FCC nominee hold remains in force; also asks NTIA for info on cost of government testing of LightSquared
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Sen.
Charles Grassley's hold on two FCC nominees continues pending more info from
the FCC, the senator indicated in a statement from a spokesperson, while the
Senator has made a new information request from the National Telecommunications
& Information Administration (NTIA).

"On
Friday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee shared with Senator Grassley
the first set of documents provided by the FCC," a Grassley spokesperson
said in a statement.  "According to
the FCC, the documents all have been previously released through the Freedom of
Information Act."

A
Grassley spokesperson said the FCC indicated as much in the cover letter to the
three-disk document drop.

"Therefore, Senator Grassley's hold on the FCC nominees will continue
until the FCC demonstrates its commitment to comply with the House committee's
request and produce new, internal documents," the statement continued.

The
documents, some 13,000 pages worth, relate to the FCC's grant of a waiver to
LightSquared to launch a wholesale wireless broadband network, a waiver the FCC
plans to rescind due to interference issues with GPS.

Grassley
indicates he continues to work with House Energy & Commerce Committee
Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and others on that House committee to
"obtain internal FCC documents that have not been previously
released."

If
so, the senator continued to suggest, "this process will lead to more
transparency from the FCC that will help to hold the commission accountable and
allow the FCC commissioner nominees to move forward." 

The
FCC did not provide the documents at Grassley's behest, since he is not the
chairman of a relevant committee.

Upton is, and agreed to share
the documents with Grassley.

Separately,
Grassley, joined by Rep. Michael Turner, has asked NTIA for an accounting of
how much taxpayer money went to test LightSquared for GPS interference.
"The federal government spent millions of taxpayer dollars on testing for
a project that moved along only because the government gave approvals before
resolving interference questions," they said in a statement. "Now, taxpayers
are on the hook for the testing that showed that the project interfered with government
devices using global positioning systems. The executive branch needs to account
for just how much taxpayer money it spent and why."

Among
the questions they want answered is whether the FCC has ever asked NTIA to provide government
resources without reimbursement to "assist a single private company with
its business plans."

They
want answers by April 19.

The FCC had no comment on the NTIA letter. As to the documents the FCC has turned over, an FCC official said: "The fact is that thousands of pages of documents that the commission gave to the committee contain confidential information that is not in the public domain." The official would not comment on whether that also meant some of the documents had not already been released per various FOIA requests.

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