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FCC Denies Request to Extend Net Neutrality Comment Period

The FCC denied a request by the National Hispanic Media Coalition to extend the initial comment deadline on its network neutrality proposal until 60 days after the FCC complied with an outstanding FOIA request.

The initial comments were due July 17, with replies dueAug. 16. 

NHMC asked for the extension, contending that it was needed to “ensure that all evidence relevant to this proceeding is available to the public, and that the public has adequate time to analyze the evidence and comment accordingly."

Specifically, NHMC said the evidence was the 47,000 network neutrality complaints the FCC has received and NHMC had sought under the FOIA request.

Daniel Kahn, chief of the Wireline Competition Bureau's Competition Policy Division, said that the request did not justify a lengthy delay. He said that while the commission could have simply denied the request for the 47,000 complaints outright under FOIA guidelines because it was unreasonably burdensome, staff has worked to provide "responsive" information. That included providing NHMC with 1,000 responsive complaints and an offer to provide an additional 2,000 bySept. 1, along with responses from carriers, 1,500 relevant emails, and a spreadsheet with all 47,000 complaint numbers and additional data fields. 

Kahn said NHMC is free to address the relevance of additional documents in its reply comments, ex parte filings or after the deadline for comments since the docket does not close and comments can still be filed. 

"If the Commission made a practice of delaying comment cycles in response to FOIA requests that require extensive redactions, it would provide parties that oppose particular proceedings an avenue to grind those proceedings to a halt," said Kahn. "The Commission will continue to strive to enable NHMC to review and comment upon the information that it has requested."