House Oversight Postpones FCC Hearing

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee postponed a hearing on the relationship between the FCC and White House, scheduled for Feb. 25, after FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said he was unable to testify.

“We are deeply disappointed in chairman Wheeler’s decision," said Oversight chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chair of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, which has principal jurisdiction over FCC matters. "As chairman Wheeler pushes forward with plans to regulate the Internet, he still refuses to directly answer growing concerns about how the rules were developed, how they are structured, and how they will stand up to judicial scrutiny," they said, adding: "After hearing from over four million Americans on such an important topic to our economic and cultural future, it's striking that when Congress seeks transparency, chairman Wheeler opts against it. The last time a rule of this magnitude was voted on by the FCC, then-Senator Obama was motivated to call for transparency at the commission. We continue that call today."

Wheeler declined to make public the draft language of the open Internet order before the planned Feb. 26 vote, which Republicans had asked for. Wheeler said it would be inappropriate to change procedure and precedent without giving the public and all commissioners time to weigh in on such a decision. The Republican commissioners both said they wanted the draft published.

The House Energy & Commerce Committee Communications Subcommittee's Feb. 25 hearing on net neutrality was not postponed, however. But Wheeler was not on that witness list, which did not focus on the FCC's perspective

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.