NEW HARTFORD, N.Y. – Congressman Anthony Brindisi stood in front of Spectrum in New Hartford Tuesday to draw attention to a bill that is designed to combat rising cable and internet rates.
Brindisi hopes going public with his plan will either force Spectrum to agree to the terms, or expose the company’s questionable business practices.
“Look, it's not secret, Charter/Spectrum hates me, but what's more offending really is that they think I’ll be quiet. So, today I am all but shouting out my plan to hold Spectrum accountable in upcoming federal budget negotiations, where I will work to insert language spectrum will have to fight like a dog to remove,” said Brindisi.
Brindisi is trying to use the upcoming federal funding deadline to force the FCC to take decisive action.
He says the bill would mean stronger FCC oversight, but is only backed by one fellow member in the house. The Transparency for Cable Consumers Act was introduced to the House of Representatives, but is sitting in committee where he says “some of Spectrum’s favorite members of Congress want it to be.”
Under Brindisi’s proposed plan, the chairman of the FCC must submit to Congress a public report that does the following:
- Details actions to protect consumers from predatory actions by cable and internet companies, which includes debt collection methods.
- Requires the FCC to propose appropriate regulatory consequences for cable or internet companies fined by a state public service commission. Charter Communications was subject to a fine from the New York State Public Service Commission for failing to uphold the terms of its merger with Time Warner Cable.
- Establishes a working group to investigate the rising rates in this industry.
The plan would give the FCC chairman up to 180 days to provide the public report.
Brindisi is also looking into other state’s disputes with Spectrum to help make the case for action against a company he says is undermining consumers.
“Usually, when up against a mega company like Spectrum, the general thinking is to try and ‘sneak’ in language that holds an industry’s feet to the fire, but the way I see it, Spectrum should have to publicly fight me in full sight of regulators,” Brindisi said. “None of what I am demanding is going to hurt them, but it will make things better for consumers. So, let’s see what they do.”