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FCC Will Provide More Notice Of Future Broadband Hearings

The FCC will provide "greater advance notice" of upcoming broadband field hearings, according to an FCC spokesman.

That came in response to complaints by media watchdog group Free Press that its field hearing on mobile broadband in San Diego Thursday was held with only 48 hours notice and, like others, during the day when most folks are at work, and with audience comment coming only from note cards.

"The process of developing the National Broadband Plan has been one of the most open in the Commission's history and has provided more opportunities for public participation than ever before," said the spokesman. "Attendance by the public at the FCC's 27 staff workshops and 4 hearings has been strong. Nearly 1,500 people have attended the staff workshops in person, and over 6,600 have attended online. However, we want to encourage even more public participation, and we intend to release a schedule of upcoming field hearings to provide greater advance notice to the public."

At the San Diego hearing, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, in giving a shout-out for the hastily assembled hearing, pointed out that a "swat team" of staffers had put it together on short notice. He was in San Diego to speak at CTIA, the wireless association, about mobile broadband."The previous FCC certainly cannot be described as fully open and participatory, but Kevin Martin used to drag the entire Commission to field hearings, and gave the public the opportunity to speak directly to the Commissioners, sometimes into the wee hours of the night," Free Press Research Director Derek Turner said in response to the FCC spokesperson. "All we are asking for is more advanced notice and the opportunity for the public to speak out and proactively participate in these hearings."