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Rosenworcel: FCC Has Too Often Proved D.C. Is Rigged Against People

FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel provided what she likened to a end-of-school year report on the FCC, and the majority did not emerge with a very good grade.

That came in her written testimony for an FCC oversight hearing in the House Communications Subcommittee scheduled for July 25.

"Too often our procedures fall short of what good governance requires," she said. "Our mapping practices for broadband do not accurately reflect the state of connectivity on the ground. Our claim that the agency suffered a Distributed Denial of Service Attack following John Oliver’s report on our net neutrality plans is just not credible. In the meantime, the agency has ignored the fact that this public docket is flooded with fraud—including half a million comments from Russia and two million individuals with stolen identities."

Related: Pai Calls Out Net Neutrality Chicken Littles

But Rosenworcel, the only Democratic on the commission and thus the lone standard bearer for her view of the right regulatory stuff, was hardly done with the criticism.

"Too often during the last nine months the agency acted at the behest of the corporate forces that surround it, shortchanging the American people. You can see that clearly with our roll back of net neutrality," she said. "You see it, too, with our efforts to foster the deployment of new networks but failure to fully engage those who need a voice in our policies—the cities and towns that should be our partners in the process,
the Tribal communities that are entitled to government-to government consultation, and the Department of Commerce which just last week expressed concern about how our rush to reform could harm national security and public safety services."

"So many people think that Washington is rigged against them. It saddens me when on too many occasions during the last nine months this agency proved them right." She pointed out that it had been nine months since the last FCC oversight hearing, which she said was about the same time period as a school year.

But her report card did include a "showed improvement" mark for the FCC's handling of the Sinclair deal.

Related: Sinclair Made Last Ditch Effort to Head Off Hearing

"I would be remiss if I did not mention the agency’s recent decision regarding Sinclair Broadcasting," she said. "When I last appeared before you nine months ago, I alone expressed concern about how the agency had bent and twisted so many of its media policies to serve the business plans of this one company. This changed last week when the agency adopted an order designating the proposed Sinclair-Tribune transaction for hearing. I want to thank my colleagues—and the chairman in particular—for the effort to reach consensus on this matter."

The vote to to designate the deal was unanimous.

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.