FCC Asked to Prevent TRS Line Items on Customer Bills

A pair of Democratic legislators has asked the FCC to deny a request to itemize a TRS (Telecommunications Relay Service) fund fee on customer bills.

Given that the price of service is often a topic of Capitol Hill concern and criticism from advocacy groups, carriers tend to want to let customers know what portion of that bill can be attributed to various government fees and subsidies.

In this case, ITTA-the Voice of America's Broadband Providers in May 2018 asked for a declaratory ruling from the FCC that it is able to display the TRS fund fee its subs are having to pay. It told the FCC such a ruling was "in full accord with the Commission’s TRS and Truth-in-Billing precedents, as well as longstanding industry practice."

But Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), the latter the chair of the House Communications Subcommittee, say that since the TRS fee is to subsidize telephone service to those with hearing and speech disabilities, could lead to stereotyping them as a societal cost burden.

“To specifically identify the cost of any ADA service (whether it be for a handicap accessible ramp or TRS) on any consumer or corporate bill in the form of a surcharge, fee, or any other form of a line-item discriminates against and ostracizes people with disabilities," they said in a letter Wednesday (May 1) to FCC chair Ajit Pai.

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.