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FCC Denies Request to Extend Net-Neutrality Comment Period

The FCC has denied a request by the National Hispanic Media Coalition to extend the initial comments deadline on its network-neutrality proposal.

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

NHMC had asked on July 7 that the FCC extend the comments period until 60 days after the agency complied with NHMC's outstanding FOIA request for the 47,000 network-neutrality complaints the FCC has received.

The group contended the extension 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."

Daniel Kahn, chief of the Wireline Competition Bureau's Competition Policy Division, said the FOIA request did not justify a lengthy delay of the network neutrality item.

Kahn said that while the commission, under FOIA guidelines, could have simply denied the request for the 47,000 complaints outright because it was unreasonably burdensome, FCC staff has worked to provide "responsive" information, including providing NHMC with 1,000 responsive complaints and an offer to provide an additional 2,000 by Sept. 1, along with responses from carriers, 1,500 relevant e-mails, and a spreadsheet with all 47,00 complaint numbers and additional data fields.

Kahn said NHMC is free to address the relevance of additional documents in its reply comments, or 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," Kahn said. "The Commission will continue to strive to enable NHMC to review and comment upon the information that it has requested."