Most FCC investigations go nowhere: report

Fri Mar 14, 2008 1:04am EDT
 
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By Brooks Boliek

WASHINGTON (Hollywood Reporter) - If the Federal Communications Commission were a cop on the beat, congressional watchdogs contend, it would have a lousy conviction record. They find that most of the government agency's investigations fail to result in any enforcement.

According to a report released on Thursday by the General Accountability Office, only about 9% of the completed investigations resulted in enforcement action, while 83% resulted in no enforcement.

The GAO said it could not determine why the investigations were closed without action because "FCC does not systematically collect these data."

Congressional critics of the agency say the report proves the commission lacks respect for the consumers it is supposed to protect.

"When more than 80% of complaints investigated by the FCC are closed without any meaningful enforcement action, and it isn't possible to determine why no action was taken, then it appears that the FCC has abdicated its duty to protect consumers," said Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich.

Dingell, chairman of the House Commerce Committee, has launched a wide-ranging investigation into FCC practices. On Wednesday he asked the agency for a potential treasure-trove of documents as he seeks to ferret out possible misconduct.

While agency officials admitted that their record-keeping needed to be modernized, they defended their actions.

"Since I became chairman, the Enforcement Bureau is responding to 100% of consumer complaints," said FCC chairman Kevin Martin. "Additionally, under my chairmanship, the commission has collected a record amount of fines, forfeitures and consent decree payments."   Continued...

 
<p>Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Kevin Martin participates in an Industry Insider session during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada January 8, 2008. According to a report released on Thursday by the General Accountability Office, only about 9% of the completed investigations by the FCC resulted in enforcement action, while 83% resulted in no enforcement. REUTERS/Steve Marcus</p>