The FCC is having a terrible month, and consumers will pay the price

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[Commentary] Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is setting a record pace for deregulating the communications industries. Believe it or not, things are about to get worse in Nov. Starting with the FCC’s open meeting on Nov 16, the agency is poised to approve or propose no fewer than four decisions that will deregulate consolidated industries, remove consumer protections, and widen the digital divide:

  1. Media Ownership Rules: Tomorrow the agency will vote to weaken or eliminate rules that, among other things, limit cross-ownership of radio and TV stations in one market; prevent ownership of two of the top four TV stations in a market and require at least eight separately owned broadcast voices in a market; and prevent companies from avoiding the rules through business arrangements that for all intents and purposes give control of one station to another.
  2. Lifeline: Tomorrow, the FCC will vote to start a public comment period on a proposal that may be the cruelest ever to come out of the agency. Pai's proposal will gut Lifeline in many ways.
  3. Discontinuation of Copper Networks: After tomorrow’s vote, incumbent telephone companies will be able to discontinue copper services at will, with no notice or analysis of its impact on its customers.
  4. Net Neutrality: The moment that supporters of a free and open internet have dreaded will come to pass on the day before Thanksgiving. Pai will circulate to his fellow commissioners a draft of an order that would eliminate the FCC’s oversight over broadband providers and either severely curtail or more likely eliminate the strong 2015 net neutrality rules. 

If you are a supporter of fast, fair, open, and affordable networks, November will be a bad month. And December will be, too. So, keep calling your representatives and senators and tell them that you oppose pretty much everything this FCC is doing.

[Gigi Sohn is an internationally-known communications attorney and former Counselor to the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Currently, she is an Open Society Foundations Leadership in Government Fellow. In the coming months, Ms Sohn will be writing articles for Benton's Digital Beat, examining the importance of open, democratic, accessible, and affordable communications networks.]


The FCC is having a terrible month, and consumers will pay the price