Proposed rule banning ‘cramming’ tops FCC open meeting agenda

Lawmakers might take a greater than usual interest in the FCC's next open meeting, which includes consideration of new rules on cramming and heightened disclosure requirements for television stations, if the items announced Friday by Chairman Julius Genachowski are any indication.

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The tentative schedule for the April 27 open meeting includes consideration of new rules that have attracted lawmaker concern and, in some cases, criticism. 

The meeting will begin with consideration of a rule to ban "cramming," the practice of letting unauthorized third parties place charges onto telephone bills. 

The proposed order would "protect consumers by adopting … additional rules to help consumers prevent and detect the unlawful and fraudulent placement of unauthorized charges on their telephone bills."

The practice came under the congressional microscope last week when Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSchumer, Pelosi push Trump to back universal background check bill Sinema says she would back Kennedy in race against Markey Democrats threaten to withhold defense votes over wall MORE (D-N.Y.) called for the FCC to ban the practice. 

But the most controversial item on the agenda is likely to be the "Enhanced Disclosure Requirements for Television Stations," which would require that stations move their "public inspection file" to the Internet. The information covered would include identities of political advertisers and the rates paid by them. 

Several senators, led by frequent FCC critic Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), sent Genachowski a letter last week asking that he rethink the proposed rule.

With President Obama's nominations of Republican Ajit Pai and Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel to fill the commission's two currently vacant seats still held up by Senate Republicans, passing Genachowski's proposals requires only one vote of the two other sitting commissioners in addition to his own.