Dingell blasts FCC for broadband secrecy


Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) is hopping mad that FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has refused to send to Capitol Hill the Commission’s analysis of the National Broadband Plan and its impact on free and local television viewers. The veteran congressman had requested the analysis in June and Genachowski refused the request the beginning of this month.

The veteran congressman, in a new letter dated August 16th, called Genachowski’s refusal to comply with his request “deeply troubling.”

Dingell (pictured) lashed out at Genachowski for seeking authority from Congress to conduct incentive auctions while refusing to make public what will happen if such reclamation of TV spectrum takes place. “By keeping this information from Congress…you force me to conclude that you in fact are concealing from Congress the true nature and consequences of future agency actions. With this in mind, I will oppose granting the Commission statutory authority to conduct such auctions that does not include explicit and fair protections for broadcasters,”

“I am deeply disturbed that an agency created by Congress so often and so willfully fails in its duty to respond in a substantive manner to Congressional requests for information,” said Dingell. “With respect to voluntary incentive auctions, it is imperative that Members of Congress know what effect they will have on the broadcast industry and their constituents’ ability to receive free, over-the-air local programming,” the influential Democrat wrote.

Click here for Dingell’s website with links to all three letters.

Not surprisingly, Dingell’s comments are being welcomed by NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith.

“It is deeply disappointing that a member of Congress as distinguished and long-serving as John Dingell would not receive an answer from the FCC to a question so vital to his constituency. Every day, free and local television provides news, entertainment and lifeline emergency weather information to tens of millions of Americans. Under NAB’s analysis of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan, local television’s future could be irreparably diminished, and Congressman Dingell’s concern clearly arises from the fact that Detroit citizens could lose access to all of their local TV stations because of US treaty obligations with Canada,” said Smith. “If the FCC has evidence proving that NAB’s analysis is incorrect, it should make it available, and quickly.”

RBR-TVBR observation: We doubted that anyone could rival Genachowski’s mentor, ex-Chairman Reed Hundt, in his ability to turn friends into enemies – but the current Chairman is certainly making the effort to prove us wrong.