Washington (November 16, 2017) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, released the following statement today after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to adopt rules which eliminate broadcast ownership rules and erode the crucial Lifeline program.
The FCC rolled back the Top-Four Ownership Rule, which prevented big media companies from taking over more than one of the top four stations in a designated market area, and the Eight-Voices Test, which prevented acquisitions which would violate a minimum threshold of available viewpoints.
In its actions regarding Lifeline, the FCC adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to consider limiting Lifeline support to only facilities-based providers despite the fact that the majority of Lifeline recipients receive service from non-facilities-based providers. Further, the NPRM proposes a budget cap which would set a hard limit for Lifeline expenditures, threatening service for the most vulnerable Americans. The FCC also ruled that Wi-Fi-delivered broadband Internet access services do not qualify as mobile broadband under Lifeline.
“Instead of going to bat for local news, weather, and sports, the Commission has turned its back on the importance of localism,” said Senator Markey. “By eliminating rules which ensured that Americans have access to a variety of viewpoints and prevented any one company from gaining too much control in one market, the FCC has paved the way for broadcasting behemoths to exercise more control.
“The FCC also voted to advance a proposal that threatens to cut the very lifeline that helps tens of thousands of Bay Staters access critical telephone and internet services. The Lifeline program is the Medicaid of the telecommunications universe, and any attempt to cap funding, limit benefits, or reduce the number of providers for this critical program could exacerbate the digital divide and deprive disadvantaged communities the opportunity to access key educational, employment, and emergency services.”