Today, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government voted to pass the Fiscal Year 2016 Financial Services Appropriations bill to fund a variety of government agencies, including the Federal Communications Commission. Public Knowledge contends that riders targeting the FCC could jeopardize an open internet and hike pay-TV costs nationwide. For this reason, Public Knowledge sent a letter to Senators Thad Cochran and Barbara Mikulski urging them to vote against the bill or at least remove its harmful provisions targeting the FCC.
The following can be attributed to Chris Lewis, Vice President of Government Affairs at Public Knowledge:
“We remain curious as to why the Senate Appropriations Committee even voted on this bill without ever giving the public a full view of what is in it. No bill language was available, even right after the vote, and a summary of the bill was only posted after subcommittee markup which was mere minutes long. No discussion draft was posted or distributed. The public has no way to weigh in on the thoughts and votes of Senators on the Appropriations Committee because we can't read the bill. The American people deserve a better process.
“Public Knowledge and others have expressed serious concerns about the House Financial Services Appropriations bill for its riders targeting the FCC and the dangerous consequences of including these policy concerns in their appropriations bill. The rider that prohibits rate regulation in the net neutrality decision could prevent the FCC from addressing basic concerns on IP networks such as interconnection disputes that leave consumers without access to parts of the Internet and discriminatory data caps that eliminate online choices for consumers. If the rider is written broadly, it could even limit the ability for the FCC to manage universal service for broadband or solve rural call completion problems on IP networks.
“The FCC decision on joint service agreements prevent broadcasters from colluding on programming agreements and contracts which in turn can raise pay-TV rates for consumers. This grandfathering rider is a giveaway to special interests who want to keep these costs artificially high.”
You may view the letter here.
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.