Senate panel votes 20% FCC cut

The Senate appropriations subcommittee voted Sept. 7 to slash 20% from the Federal Communications Commission’s 1996 budget, a cut that FCC chairman Reed Hundt said would result in “hundreds and hundreds” of employee layoffs.

Under the Senate panel’s action, the FCC would receive $148 million in fiscal 1996, down from the current level of $185.2 million. The House already has voted to retain the $185.2 million level for the agency for 1996, meaning that if the Senate panel’s budget cuts are approved, a House-Senate conference committee would have to resolve the difference.

Hundt said the Senate panel’s action “would cause not cuts, but amputations” at the FCC. “Monopolies will continue to reign and media concentration will prevail” to the detriment of consumers, he said, if the FCC doesn’t get the budget it needs.

Hundt said “hundreds and hundreds of immediate terminations” at the FCC would be required if the Senate panel’s proposal becomes law. “The agency would be paralyzed; new businesses would be stymied; existing businesses looking to expand overseas would find themselves without necessary advocates,” he claimed.

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