Interim FCC chairman James Quello told Congress Thursday his agency will try to begin carrying out cable rate regulation prior to Oct. 1, but only if Congress provides money to handle the job.
Quello and commissioners Ervin Duggan and Andrew Barrett faced a grilling in Rep. Ed Markey’s (D-Mass.)
House telecommunications subcommittee, where lawmakers were skeptical over the FCC’s decision to delay from June 21 to Oct. 1 the effective date of rate regulation. The Consumer Federation of America has charged the delay amounts to a $ 300 million “gift” to the cable industry.
Markey led the chorus of criticism, noting the FCC on May 14 rejected the cable industry’s request for a postponement of rate regulation until Aug. 3. “Consumers are wondering why a six-week delay was unnecessary in May, but a three-month delay is necessary in June,” said Markey.
Quello defended the delay, saying the agency just recently realized rate regulation is “maybe a bigger load than we thought.”
Notably, influential House energy and commerce committee chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) came to the FCC’s defense. He called the delay a “sound decision” because of the agency’s “inadequate resources.”
The FCC is banking on congressional approval of an $ 11.5 million emergency spending bill to carry out enforcement of cable reregulation.
Markey said the coin will be forthcoming within several weeks. Quello, however, said “the check isn’t in the mail.”