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Sen. Flake Wants Answers on Broadband Privacy Extension

Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) wants to know why the FCC extended the comment period on its broadband privacy proposal for a few days on its own initiative after denying a personal request from the senator--and others--to grant a longer extension.

In a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler Friday (June 24), who had personally denied Flake's request, the senator noted the FCC's public notice this week that the deadline was being extended from June 27 to July 6.

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He pointed out that when he and Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) had asked the FCC to extend the initial comment period by 45 days at least given the length and complexity of the item, Wheeler said "it is the policy of the Commission that extensions of time shall not be routinely granted."

Flake said that the chairman had "lumped in" the privacy proceeding with the E-rate calling and Set-top proceedings as ones with similar deadlines, "but now it seems one of these proceedings is not like the others."

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Given the FCC's apparent change of heart, at least a few days worth, Flake wanted answers to some questions, including whether the FCC received any formal or informal requests to extend the comment period, and that "since the Wireline Competition Bureau previously asserted that it is 'the policy of the Commission that extensions of time shall not be routinely granted,' whether that was still the policy, and if so, why the situation was now not routine. He wanted to know the same about other proceedings Wheeler had said were similarly situated.

Flake said he would like an answer by June 30.

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.