Rush Hour On Capitol Hill For FCC

The FCC commissioners will be beating a path to the Hill as Republican lawmakers drill down on net neutrality, process reform and more.

All five commissioners—the chairman is also a commissioner—are slated to testify at a Senate Commerce Committee oversight hearing March 18. Then there is another oversight hearing in the House Communications Subcommittee March 19, at which all five will also appear, according to the subcommittee.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler and commissioner Ajit Pai have also been lined up for a March 25 hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on the FCC's new network neutrality rules. Also lined up is Federal Trade Commission member Joshua Wright.

The FCC's reclassification of broadband as a common carrier service has removed some of the FTC's authority over privacy to the FCC.

Then there is the March 17 hearing, "FCC: Process and Transparency," in the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee, where a committee spokesperson said Wheeler is also testifying.

In fact, all four of those hearings were in part prompted by the FCC's Title II decision, and will be a chance for Republicans to weigh in on their concerns with both the substance and the process of the order. The Republican-led Congress has signaled there would be muscular oversight of federal agencies and the Title II decision, particularly given that the President's urging of that approach has drawn fire from Republican leadership in both Houses of Congress.

The House Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee will also hold a hearing at 10 a.m. on March 18 on a bipartisan cybersecurity bill introduced by Democratic and Republican members of the subcommittee. An FCC staffer is expected to be invited to that one, too, but at least the commissioners will get a break, said a committee source.

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.