New House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and new Communications Subcommittee Chair Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) are in agreement that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler should have kept the just-released zero rating report to himself.
It was actually members of Congress--Senate Democrats--who urged him to look into the sponsored data plans. The Wireless Bureau issued a report this week finding that while there was nothing wrong with the plans, per se, they had issues with specific plans of AT&T and Verizon.
"We are disappointed to see the FCC moving controversial items like the recent staff report on zero-rating in the waning hours of Chairman Wheeler’s tenure,:" they said in a statement, a sentiment shared by FCC senior Republican Ajit Pai.
"Chairman Wheeler’s decision to move forward with this report is a rare trifecta of anti-consumer policy, inappropriate use of delegated authority, and directly contradicting a request of Congress,” said Walden and Blackburn of the report. “Ultimately, if taken at face-value the findings in the report threaten to reduce consumer choice and drive up monthly bills. Our regulatory agencies should aim to foster innovation and competitive service offerings that benefit consumers, not squelch innovative business plans in their infancy. We remain hopeful that the agency will refrain from taking action on controversial items in the remaining days of this administration, and we’re looking forward to working with the next commission to encourage robust technological innovation for consumers across the country.”
Pai, who is likely to be the interim chair at least, signaled the report would not have an impact on his view of the issue.
Related: Zero Rating Report Gets Zero From Industry Groups
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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.