Washington -- Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) is planning to
reintroduce cable-rate-freeze legislation shortly, following Congress' return to work
last Wednesday, a DeFazio aide said last week.
DeFazio sponsored a rate-freeze bill in 1997, but the
measure gained little traction. No committee hearings were held, and DeFazio did little to
publicize his measure.
If enacted, the bill would prohibit any rate increases for
basic and expanded-basic service, based on rates in effect as of Oct. 1, 1997.
DeFazio would also require the Federal Communications
Commission to report to Congress within six months on the causes of cable-rate increases
since Oct. 1, 1992.
DeFazio spokeswoman Jessica Zufolo said the bill would also
remove the March 31sunset on FCC regulation of upper-tier cable rates, borrowing a
provision from legislation introduced during the last Congress by Rep. Edward Markey
A Markey aide said the lawmaker is not planning to
introduce cable-regulation legislation immediately, but he would likely do so in several
weeks, after consulting with Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.), chairman of the House
"Markey and Tauzin have yet to speak about it,"
the Markey aide said.
Last year, Tauzin and Markey teamed up on a bill that would
allow local governments to continue upper-tier rate regulation beyond March 31 if
operators failed to offer several programming packages, instead of single tiers with
dozens of channels.
The bill also said cable operators had to offer basic tiers
consisting of only local TV stations and PEG-access (public, educational and government)