The House Energy and Commerce Committee Wednesday voted to approve a bill that would consolidate eight FCC annual reports to Congress, including the video competition and cable price reports, into a single biennial report. It also repeals the annual telegraph report still on the books, which became a symbol of the need for reform of the congressional reports.
That unanimous voice vote followed the approval, also unanimous, of a bipartisan amendment added to address concerns by some FCC staffers. As previously reported, the amendment would give FCC chairmen installed in the last quarter of even years (when the biennial reports are due) a little more time to complete their portions of the report, and would also clarify that the bill does not impair the FCC's ability to issue other reports.
Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), ranking member of the House Communications Subcommittee, withdrew an amendment to the bill that would have required the commission to include in its consolidated Communications Marketplace Report an examination of below-the-line items, those administrative, service and other fees that she says are not easy to find and are not the government-mandated taxes and charges -- like Universal Service Contributions, for example.
That came after her Republican colleagues promised to continue discussions about how to increase bill transparency. She sent letter earlier this month to major carriers and ISPS seeking info on the "below-the-line" fees.
Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) is spearheading a similar bill in the Senate.