Last night, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the (FY) 2017 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill, HR 5485. The bill includes appropriations for the Federal Communications Commission less than the requested amount.
The legislation also prohibits the FCC from enforcing its landmark Open Internet Order, a consumer victory just upheld by the D.C. Circuit, and requires the agency to make all proposed regulations publicly available 21 days before a Commission vote. Additionally, it prohibits the FCC from protecting consumers from harmful broadband pricing structures and prevents the agency from promoting set-top box competition through its #UnlockTheBox proceeding pending further study, costing consumers billions with every delay.
Public Knowledge opposes this bill because it would undermine digital rights and marketplace competition that benefits consumers. The House has passed this bill despite veto warnings from the White House.
The following may attributed to Kate Forscey, Government Affairs Associate Counsel at Public Knowledge:
“Public Knowledge condemns this latest attempt to hijack critical funding legislation with dozens of provisions that will actively harm Americans, generally dislodge government processes, and once more take aim at the FCC’s ability to do its job. The anti-set-top box language is particularly egregious. The Commission’s current proceeding has been mandated by Congress for 20 years and would relieve millions of consumers of rental fees they currently pay to Big Cable for their set-top boxes. These fees total around $20 billion a year, and consumers have no choice but to pay.
“Through #UnlockTheBox, the FCC wants to give consumers choice in how they watch the content they pay for, while opening up the market to new, diverse, and independent content creators and innovators. Now, as the Commission stands poised to finish its job, Big Cable and Hollywood’s allies in Congress have boldly attached these anticompetitive, anti-consumer provisions onto critical funding legislation. Make no mistake: These provisions are an industry giveaway to Big Cable, blessing its ongoing practice of needlessly robbing consumers of billions of dollars and stifling innovation in the video marketplace for the foreseeable future. It must not be allowed.
“The bill also contains three unnecessary provisions intended to scale back the FCC's net neutrality rules, a victory for consumers lauded by millions of Americans. These misguided attacks on the FCC's ability to protect consumers and ensure an open internet fly in the face of the will of Americans nationwide. We are hopeful that moving forward, Congress will reject any bill burdened with language that conflicts with its duty to act in the best interests of the American people.”
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.
Members of the media may contact Communications Director Shiva Stella with inquiries, interview requests, or to join the Public Knowledge press list at firstname.lastname@example.org or 405-249-9435.