Brindisi Slams Cable Broadband Providers on House Floor

New Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-N.Y.) used his first legislative effort in Congress to hammer cable broadband operators.

He wants operators that have been fined by state public service commissions to have to report back to another commission, the FCC in Washington.

Brindisi, who was elected to Congress last November, has introduced the Transparency for Cable Consumers Act to make that happen.

Brindisi took to the House floor last week to introduce the bill, saying there was a need for more oversight of cable and broadband providers and citing "price increases, slow internet speeds and baffling fees."

Related: New York Says Charter Has to Stop Operating Systems in State

Brindisi charged that customers all over the country were getting overcharged by their cable company and don't always get the advertised speed they are paying for, particularly in rural areas.

He told his colleagues cable ops who have been fined by states should be required to report to the FCC what they are charging customers and what they are delivering in return.

Specifically that would be: 1) The number of cable and broadband internet customers in each county; 2) The average cable bill and broadband internet bill amounts in each county; 3) A full accounting of all fees charged customers in each county; and 4) The average broadband internet speeds delivered in each county."

He said more transparency would help increase competition and improve service for consumers, introducing the bill during National Consumer Protection Week as part of an effort to "help shed light on scams, identity theft, and other unfair, deceptive, and fraudulent business practices."

Brindisi is new to Congress but not to the issue, which is rooted in Charter's troubles with the state.

Brindisi made Charter's forced exit from the state by the New York public service commission a campaign issue, and once in Congress wrote FCC chair Ajit Pai asking him to outline the FCC's plan for enforcing Charter's commitment in the Time Warner Cable deal to build out broadband to new customers. Brindisi said he has yet to receive a response from Pai.

The NY PSC issued the July 27 order in response to Charter’s failure to meet certain broadband buildout promises it had agreed to to secure the state's approval of Charter's purchase of Time Warner Cable systems, approval the NY PSC rescinded. It had also fined Charter $2 million for missing buildout deadlines.

Mike Farrell contributed to this story

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.