FCC Commissioners to Testify in House Feb. 16

WASHINGTON—The House Energy & Commerce Committee's Communications Subcommittee will get a chance to grill the FCC commissioners this month.

The Committee has scheduled a Feb. 16 budget hearing in the subcommittee where it says all five of the commissioners will testify.

While the hearing will be on the FCC budget in the Administration's federal budget request, there a number of hot-button issues that could come up, including net neutrality, media ownership, the post-auction TV station repack, broadband infrastructure, broadband subsidies, and more.

“I am pleased that so many members of the Trump Administration have worked closely with the Energy and Commerce Committee to schedule these important hearings," said House Energy & Commerce Committee chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.). "It is essential that Congress exercise our oversight responsibilities and we are eager to hear from the Administration on the President’s budget request and other key issues facing our nation."

The FCC last May asked for about $322 million for 2018, 5.2 percent less than the previous year, even though the FCC's budget has been flat since 2009. The FCC pays for its operations out of fees paid by licensees.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai has said the commission can do more with less—102 fewer full-time employees, for example— while working toward its core mission to protect the public interest and close the digital divide.

This story first appeared in TVT's sister publication B&C

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 WorldTV TechTV FaxThis Week in Consumer ElectronicsVariety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.