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GOP-led FCC now faces Democrats' scrutiny

Jan. 26, 2007 at 1:25 PM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- The U.S. Federal Communications Commission, which infrequently sparred with the Republican-run Congress, faces more scrutiny with Democrats in charge.

The Republican-controlled FCC -- which makes decisions on telephone, television, radio, Internet and other services that people use daily -- is expected to be grilled Thursday during a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing, The Washington Post said.

Senators said they would press the FCC chairman and its four commissioners on issues such as media-ownership diversity, Internet access and broadcast decency standards.

"They've effectively emasculated any public-interest standards that existed" for radio and TV stations, said committee member Sen. Byron L. Dorgan, D-N.D., adding that Congress "for years" failed to provide oversight.

Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., a senior House Commerce Committee member, said he plans to call "comprehensive hearings on net neutrality" later this year. "Net neutrality" refers to measures barring telephone and cable service providers from charging Web-based companies for priority access to the Internet. Markey supports such proposals while the FCC's three Republican members generally oppose them.

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