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Today, the Senate Appropriations Committee marked up its fiscal year (FY) 2017 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill. The bill includes appropriations for the Federal Communications Commission of approximately $341 million, below the President’s requested amount, and also requires the FCC to complete an impact study of its set-top box proposal before voting to increase video device competition for consumers.
The following can be attributed to Kate Forscey, Government Affairs Associate Counsel at Public Knowledge:
“We are disappointed by the Appropriations Committee targeting the FCC for working to protect consumers, as Congress directed. This attack is a rider which attempts to stymie the Commission’s ongoing proceeding to ‘Unlock the Box’. The rider hitched onto this bill would further forestall a truly competitive video marketplace, for which consumers and creators yearn and which the FCC now stands poised to deliver.
“From a policy standpoint, this industry giveaway is another attempt at a transparent delay strategy, designed to perpetuate incumbent cable’s current stranglehold on consumers, and which flies in the face of Congress’ clear directive that the FCC act to ensure competition in consumer video navigation. If Congress delays this proceeding, consumers will be caught in procedural purgatory, while innovators and content creators are left wanting for a chance to speak and create. Congress empowered the FCC to work out the policy concerns that some members have raised, and it should be trusted to do so.
“The rider is also just the latest attendee to the parade of broader attacks on the Commission’s obligation and ability to serve the public interest in the telecommunications sector, which is more vital than ever as technology is increasingly integrated into our lives. Plainly, it is yet one more attempt to hijack the appropriations process and turn it into a theater for poor policy-making. We hope those members of Congress who support consumer choice and diverse voices see through the ruse and reject these policy riders as the process moves forward.”
For more information, please view our recent blog post, “FCC Must Proceed: Don’t Let Congress Stop the Clock on Unlocking the Box,” as well as our video competition page.