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House Schedules FCC Oversight Hearing

Capitol Hill
(Image credit: Architect of the Capitol)

The House Energy & Commerce Committee will hold an FCC oversight hearing March 31.

It is possible, though unlikely, that the FCC could be at full strength by that time if the Senate votes to discharge and then vote on the nomination of Gigi Sohn for the fifth FCC seat, though a hold threat continues from Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).

“These days access to the internet means access to economic and educational opportunities," said Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Communications Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D-Pa.). "The FCC plays a key role in ensuring that Congress’ historic broadband investments included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law reach the people and communities that will most benefit from all the opportunities that come with quality internet access,” they said.

The vast majority of that infrastructure money is being overseen by the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, but getting it to the most needy will depend on the broadband availability maps the FCC is working to update and improve.

“We look forward to hearing from the Chairwoman and Commissioners about the FCC’s ongoing work to connect all Americans regardless of income or zip code, promoting secure and resilient networks, and paving the way for our wireless future," the legislators said.

Most of that is the sort of bipartisan work a politically tied 2-2 commission can get done. But other issues like network neutrality and media ownership will require a Democratic majority to achieve some of the Biden Administration's stated goals. ■

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.