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Deadline approaches for FCC document delivery to House Committee investigating Net Neutrality proceeding

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has until Friday to provide documents to members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee investigating how the agency went about adopting its Net Neutrality rules last year.

A July 28 letter from Republican committee members pointed to alleged communications on the part of the agency’s chief of staff and the staff of Commissioner Michael Copps that make it appear that the Net Neutrality Rules adopted Dec. 21, 2010, may have been politically motivated. The letter quoted a report in Communications Daily saying FCC Chief of Staff Eddie Lazarus told opponents of net neutrality rules that “if they don’t agree not to oppose such requirements under the current Title I broadband regime of the Communications Act, the commission may proceed under Title II.”

The letter also referenced a recent Freedom of Information Act investigation by Judicial Watch that it said “revealed coordination between Commissioner Copps’s staff and the advocacy group Free Press, one of the leading advocates supporting the President’s campaign commitment to advance network neutrality regulations.”

The lawmakers told Genachowski in the letter that these allegations suggest the commission’s Net Neutrality proceeding “was designed to fulfill a presidential campaign slogan, when it should have been based on an analysis of statutory authority, an economic analysis of the Internet service market, and an examination of the record.” If true, it would appear the rules were not based on “independent conclusions derived from a balanced fact-based record,” the letter said.

The letter requests all communications between June 25, 2009, and Dec. 21, 2010, between and among parties at the FCC dealing with the Obama Administration’s position on possible FCC action on Net Neutrality and commission adoption or enforcement of Net Neutrality rules as well as variety of other documents.

The letter, signed by Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Cliff Stearns (R-FL), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations and Greg Walsh (R-IL), chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, gave Genachowski until Aug. 12 to provide the communications.

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.