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Consumers Union: Proposed FCC reform puts consumer interests at risk

Consumer Reports News: November 30, 2011 03:38 PM

Yesterday, Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, sent a letter to lawmakers that asked them not to support legislation that would restructure the regulatory process of the Federal Communications Commission.

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce is currently marking up two bills (H.R.3309 and H.R.3310), that Consumers Union states could make it more difficult for the FCC to protect against anti-competitive and anti-consumer actions.

The letter states that Consumers Union does support some of the proposed measures, such as publishing proposed rules so that parties can consider and provide commentary, but that other measures do more harm than good.

From the letter:

  • H.R.3309 "Would require the FCC to adopt rules as long as they do not impose an additional burden on the industry. This requirement could be impracticable since it would prevent the FCC from fulfilling its Congressional mandate to further the public interest."
  • H.R.3309 "Would require the FCC to adopt rules if it is able to prove, among other things, actual consumer harm. However, this requirement would remove the FCC’s ability to make predictive judgments about probable consumer harm based on sound facts and evidence. Thus, consumers would have to be harmed first before the FCC could adopt any consumer protections."

  • H.R.3310 "Removes the FCC’s obligation to report on the average monthly price of basic cable service for cable systems that the FCC has found subject to competition vs. cable systems that operate as monopolies. Consequently, consumers and other interested parties would no longer have access to this valuable information in a concise and comprehensive manner."
  • H.R.3310 "Removes the requirement that the FCC make public when it grants a waiver of the condition of employment that a Commissioner or an employee must not have a financial stake in the industries the FCC is charged with overseeing. This requirement would limit transparency in the decision-making process."

FCC Reform Bills Put Consumer Interests at Risk [Consumers Union]

Maggie Shader

   

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