Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) released the following statement after the Committee advanced three communications and technology bills to the full House of Representatives:
“The three communications bills passed out of the Energy and Commerce Committee today will enhance diversity within the broadcast industry and improve telecommunications stability for those affected by natural disasters. These are important, timely pieces of legislation that will go a long way toward improving diversity, safety and predictability within one of our most critical industries. I thank all the sponsors of these bills and hope to see them move to the House floor soon.”
H.R. 1289, the “Preserving Home and Office Numbers in Emergencies Act of 2019,” which was introduced by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), would prohibit providers from reassigning phone numbers of subscribers in areas covered by a major disaster declaration, in a designated area, for the duration of the declaration. The bill also prohibits providers of voice service from assessing early termination fees to cancel service, or connection fees to re-subscribe at a new address, for subscribers whose residence is rendered inaccessible or uninhabitable due to a major disaster. The bill was passed as amended by voice vote.
H.R. 3957, the “Expanding Broadcast Ownership Opportunities Act of 2019,” which was introduced by Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), would reinstate the tax certificate program at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The program incentivizes broadcast station sales to, and encourages capital investment in, stations owned and controlled by socially disadvantaged individuals. The bill also requires the FCC to make recommendations to Congress for increasing the number of stations owned by women and members of minority groups and to submit a report every two years stating the total number of women- and minority-owned stations. The bill was passed as amended by voice vote.
H.R. 5564, the “Enhancing Broadcaster Diversity and Inclusion by Verifying and Ensuring the Reporting required by Statute Is Transpiring and Yielding Data Act” or the “Enhancing Broadcaster DIVERSITY Data Act,” which was introduced by Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY), would require the FCC to complete its rulemaking reviewing the FCC’s broadcast and cable equal employment opportunity rules and to begin EEO data collection. The bill also requires the FCC to create a public, searchable database of broadcast ownership data collected by the FCC. The bill was passed as amended by voice vote.
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