Senate Commerce Schedules FCC Oversight Hearing

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said Monday (July 30) that the Senate Commerce Committee, which he chairs, will hold a hearing with the current four FCC commissioners Aug. 15.

The House Communications Subcommittee held a hearing with the commissioners (the chairman is also a commissioner) last week, the FCC majority heard it from Democrats unhappy with the broadband and broadcast deregulation efforts under chairman Ajit Pai.

Those Democrats were also not happy with Pai's characterization of his net-neutrality reg rollback critics, in written testimony for the hearing, as "chicken littles."

Pai is likely to hear the same criticisms from Senate Democrats, who were successful in voting to nullify Pai's Restoring Internet Freedom order rolling back those net neutrality rules—the Congressional Review Act resolution still lacks dozens of votes, Democrat and Republican, in the House and is highly unlikely to succeed, despite net neutrality activist protests and petition drives and ad buys calling out non-supporters.

Thune said issues that will likely come up at the hearing include freeing up spectrum for wireless and expanding rural broadband deployment, as well as a "review of the media landscape." Republicans generally give Pai good reviews for eliminating various regulations and loosening others.

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.