House Panel Report Has Harsh Words for FCC Under Martin

Dec 9, 2008  •  Post A Comment

A House Energy and Commerce Committee report released Tuesday concludes that the Federal Communications Commission under Chairman Kevin Martin has a record of “egregious abuses of power, suppression of information and manipulation of data,” in the words of the chairman who oversaw an investigation into the FCC’s practices.
The staff report, titled “Deception and Distrust,” is the culmination of a bipartisan investigation launched last January. It is posted here.
“It is my hope that this report will serve as a roadmap for a fair, open and efficient FCC under new leadership in the next administration,” Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, said in the announcement Tuesday.
“Any of these findings, individually, are cause for concern,” said Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., the Energy and Commerce Committee chairman. “Together, the findings suggest that, in recent years, the FCC has operated in a dysfunctional manner and commission business has suffered as a result. It is my hope that the new FCC chairman will find this report instructive and that it will prove useful in helping the commission avoid making the same mistakes.”
In a statement, FCC spokesman Robert Kenny said:
“After a year of investigation, the committee’s primary criticism of the chairman is that he spent too much money to ensure that deaf Americans have equal access to communications services. The commission provided the committee with hundreds of e-mails from deaf and disabled Americans who wrote that they were ‘appalled to learn that the FCC staff [was] intent on drastically cutting the Video Relay Service (VRS) rate and effectively cutting VRS availability for the deaf.’ Disability rights groups were also opposed to proposals to cut funding for the VRS program.
“The other major criticism of Chairman Martin is that he believes cable rates are too high and that he has sought to enhance choice and competition in the market for video services. With cable rates having doubled over the last decade, he will continue to advocate on behalf of the millions of cable subscribers.
“The chairman makes no apologies for his commitment to serving deaf and disabled Americans and for fighting to lower exorbitantly high cable rates that consumers are forced to pay.”
(9:55 a.m.: Updated Mr. Kenny’s statement throughout)


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