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Dingell: ‘The FCC Appears to Be Broken’

As expected, the Federal Communications Commission got hammered in a House Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee hearing Wednesday over criticisms of its process.

Leading the charge was Energy & Commerce Committee chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.).

“In recent months, we have heard about many FCC agenda meetings postponed all day while closed-door negotiations on important public matters are conducted," Dingell said in his opening statement. "We have witnessed too much sniping among the five commissioners, and we have heard too many tales of a short-circuited decision-making process. In sum, the FCC appears to be broken."

That last shot echoed the sentiments of National Cable & Telecommunications Association president Kyle McSlarrow in recent comments to reporters.

"We cannot let this situation continue," Dingell said, adding that this is why he asked the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations to look into how the FCC is doing its business.

Dingell said the buck stops with Martin, but the change must come from all of the commissioners. "[Each] commissioner, including those on the Democratic side, is also responsible for ensuring that the agency works effectively for the American people,” he added. “This means good-faith efforts to discuss differences and seek common ground. It will require honest efforts to work together and negotiate.”

He continued, "I remind the commissioners that they are appointed to faithfully interpret the laws. Agency proceedings should not be a forum to pursue personal agendas."

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.