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House Oversight Hearing Scheduled for FCC Commissioners

Citing its investigation into waste, fraud and abuse in the Lifeline low-income Universal Service Fund program, the House Energy & Commerce Committee's Communications Subcommittee has scheduled an FCC oversight hearing, one of numerous FCC oversight hearings Republicans have called since the first of the year.

The subcommittee said the July 12 hearing will feature all five commissioners. It left no doubt about where Republican leadership stands on the program. The hearing notice said the members of the committee "will seek an update from the commissioners on the mismanagement of the Lifeline program."

Likely at least some of the members of that FCC witness panel will not concede what they are updating is mismanagement.

The hearing will also look at proposed broadband privacy rules, the set-top box proposal and what the committee leadership say are "ongoing" FCC transparency lapses, a charge leveled by FCC Republican members as well.

“The FCC continues to push the limits of congressional patience, grab jurisdiction from other agencies, and leave the marketplace bewildered and confused. Pledges of openness and transparency have failed to materialize. Meanwhile, it appears not just Republicans on the commission are kept in the dark on major policy proposals. This is not make believe – the consequences are real and the FCC must do better,” said Subcommittee chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.). “The upcoming hearing will provide our members an important opportunity to once again conduct oversight of an agency that needs reorganization."

Republican lawmakers are taking aim at the Lifeline proposal, including efforts to stop its migration to mobile broadband.

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.