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House Dems Pan FCC Complaint Revisions

House Energy & Commerce Committee Democratic leaders are not happy with an FCC plan to modify the consumer complaint process.

The commission is scheduled to vote July 12 to finalize that proposal and "streamline and consolidate" the rules for formal complaints against common carriers, formal complaints about pole attachments, and formal complaints about advanced communications services and equipment.

The ends include conserving resources, resolving complaints in a timely manner, and eliminating "inconsistencies." The means include uniform filing deadlines, status conferences in pole attachment proceedings and shot clocks for pole attachment complaint decisions.

The FCC is trying to remove obstacles to deployment of broadband facilities.

In a letter to FCC chair Ajit Pai, House Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), and Communications Ranking Member Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) said the report and order would roll back consumer protections.

“At a time when consumers are highly dissatisfied with their communications companies, this abrupt change in policy troubles us,” they wrote. “As the chief communications regulator, the FCC plays a critical role in ensuring consumers—including families, small businesses, and struggling Americans—get fair and honest treatment from their service providers....We worry that the proposed change signals that the FCC no longer intends to play this role, and will instead simply tell consumers with limited means and time that they need to start an expensive and complicated formal legal process."

They called on the commission to rethink the changes.

John Eggerton
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.