Sources: McCaskill Eyeing Dec. 10 For Cable Hearing

Would Look at Billing and Customer Service Issues

According to sources, Sen. Claire McCaskill is eyeing Dec. 10 for a hearing on cable rates

and customer service. One source said she has been trying to line up witnesses but the date is not yet set in stone and could slip.

McCaskill (D-Mo.) chairs the Senate Commerce Committee's Consumer Protection subcommittee and has been hammering the cable industry on rates and customer service for some time, including trying to amend STELAR, the satellite reauthorization bill, to include a bunch of provisions to put cable's feet to the fire.

In exchange for McCaskill's withdrawing that amendment, Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D- W. Va.) assured her the committee would look further into the issues. Rockefeller has similar concerns, but needed to pass a STELAR bill that would make it to the President's desk, as this one did.

Usually, that promised "further look" takes the form of a hearing or GAO study. One source suggested the hearing might not happen at all given that she was trying to get industry representatives as witnesses, where she could be expected to hammer them. It is, after all, a lame duck session and she is about to lose her chairmanship. She could conceivably still hold the hearing and call out those companies who declined to participate.

In June, McCaskill, who is chair of the Consumer Protection Subcommittee, launched a site where consumer could register their beefs with their pay TV bills, saying it was part of an effort to lay the groundwork for legislation.

Following an April hearing on satellite legislation, she took off on MVPD bills, saying she had discovered a high speed charge she was still paying even after it had become the baseline speed. When she called to ask why she was still paying extra, she was told it was because she hadn't called to change it. She did not identify the provider.