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Franken Praises Pledge Of FCC Action on Arbitration Clauses

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) praised FCC  Chairman Tom Wheeler's commitment to taking action on mandatory arbitration clauses.

Those are contractual requirements--unless a user opts out--that a sub seek private arbitration, rather than lawsuits (particularly class action suits)--to settle disputes with their cable or Internet service provider.

“This is huge news for nearly every American who signs a television, internet, or phone contract," Franken said.

The senator and FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn had written an op ed on the Time web site pledging a dual-front assault on what they saw as the anti-consumer contracts. Clyburn had also worked to make a prohibition part of the FCC's broadband privacy order voted Thursday (Oct. 27), but that didn't happen.

While prohibiting the clauses did not make it into the order, Wheeler said an inquiry had already been launched into the potential harmful effects of those clauses, with the goal of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking by February, though he may or may not still be in the post by then.

That pledge of action in a separate proceeding did not prevent Clyburn from only concurring in part of the privacy order as a way to show her disappointment at its absence, but the pledge was drawing praise from Franken.

"For decades, big corporations have locked the courtroom doors on their customers by slipping mandatory forced arbitration clauses into contracts. And ever since joining the Senate, I’ve made it a priority of mine to change that, because I believe if you’re wronged, you should be able to seek justice in our legal system. We’ve seen a lot of good steps recently to tackle

forced arbitration, and this one could be a true game changer. I want to thank FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn for her hard work on this important issue, and I look forward to continuing to work with the FCC as it fights against forced arbitration.”

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.