FCC's O'Rielly Can't Talk Lifeline, Broadband Privacy

Republican FCC commissioner Michael O'Rielly told a House FCC oversight hearing panel that he was effectively denied an opportunity to discuss the FCC's upcoming Lifeline and broadband privacy items.

That came in prepared testimony for Tuesday's hearing.

Commissioners—with the exception of the chairman, are not allowed to discuss with outside parties the substance of proposals circulated for a vote, he pointed out, without express permission.

O'Rielly said he asked for permission to discuss lifeline and broadband privacy, given that the chairman had been sharing his views on key items via fact sheets and blogs, with O'Rielly unable to address what he sees as erroneous assertions or address omissions.

He said that with the sunshine period coming up in two days—the seven-day quite period before the planned March 31 vote on the items—the fact that he had gotten no response meant the request had been effectively denied.

"Unfortunately, I am not surprised as my repeated calls to unlock the documents or at the very least to allow Commissioners to discuss all the terms of proposals openly and honestly have gone unanswered," he said.

O'Rielly also said the internal task force the chairman told Congress he had launched last year to look into FCC process reforms has held "endless meetings" but nothing had yet emerged.

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.