7:33 PM EDT

Albert Wynn, D-MD 4th

Mr. WYNN. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

One of the issues that came up as we began to develop this bill was consumer protection and the role of the local franchising authority in protecting the interests of local consumers.

The bill says that we will have a national franchise, and it also provides that under the national franchise the FCC will promulgate specific standards for consumer protection, dealing with issues such as billing disputes, discontinuation of service, loss of service, service quality, changes in channel line-up, other service features, the availability of parental controls.

The amendment that I have today basically says that, number one, an individual that has a complaint may file a complaint with the FCC or with the local franchising authority. It says that the FCC or the local franchising authority must render a decision in 90 days of the filing of a complaint. That is to address the concern that the complaint process, the consumer protection process, is too time consuming and imposes burdens on the franchisee.

Second, the amendment provides that the local franchising authority, the cities, the counties, the States, may initiate on their own a complaint proceeding and file that complaint with the FCC regarding a violation of the rules promulgated by the FCC. They may issue an order requiring that the franchisee comply with the FCC's consumer protection rules. This order will stand and may be enforced by the FCC unless it is successfully appealed.

This basically adds to the consumer protections already in the bill and enables both the individual and the local community to bring an action to enforce the rules that are set forth by the FCC to protect the consumer.

In addition, the amendment provides for an annual report, because one of the things that we wanted to see was what was going on out there once we had this new field of competition and new providers of video services. So we will have a study that will come back to our committee and our companion committee in the Senate telling us about the number of complaints the FCC has received, the trend in these complaints, the timeliness of the response to these complaints. We believe this type of information

will be very useful in determining whether we need stronger rules and regulations on consumer protection.

In sum, this is a very simple and straightforward amendment that protects the consumers and involves the local communities, and I urge its adoption.

7:36 PM EDT

Joe Barton, R-TX 6th

Mr. BARTON of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding. This is a good amendment. I am very supportive and urge a ``yes'' vote on the Wynn amendment.

7:36 PM EDT

Mike Doyle, D-PA 14th

Mr. DOYLE. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I want to thank my good friend from Maryland for offering a good amendment that is quite similar to the provisions of the Doyle-Dingell amendment that was ruled out of order. No sour grapes. It is a good amendment, worthy of support, but it only goes part of the way.

I want to make sure my friends and colleagues understand that settling for the Wynn amendment is like a football team declaring victory right after kickoff.

The Doyle-Dingell amendment would have been the equivalent of winning the Super Bowl, and I say that humbly, coming from Pittsburgh.

The Wynn amendment gives local governments the right to enforce consumer complaints and outlines an FCC backstop, just like the Doyle-Dingell amendment did.

Where this amendment stops is on the enforcement of the rest of the bill. If you agree with Mr. Wynn that the principle of local enforcement and an FCC appeal is a good one, and you should, you should also agree with that same principle for issues like public access and school channels, INETs, public hearings, as well as consumer protection like the Dingell-Doyle amendment would have.

While we are on the subject of enforcement, I want to make sure my friends are aware that the House will not debate an amendment to fix the COPE Act's rights-of-way boondoggle. For my friends who have gotten calls and letters from mayors in their districts, resolutions from city councils, this amendment, while good, does not address their larger concerns about their roads, their streets, and their other public property.

If local enforcement is such a good idea, and it is, then why should local governments not be allowed to enforce their own laws about their own streets? The COPE Act sends any dispute about streets and sidewalks to the FCC in Washington, D.C. That is a fundamental change. It is so far from how the law works today, and our body needed to debate that point.

America's cities and towns and consumers will benefit from the Wynn amendment, and I thank my friend from Maryland for offering it, but it is a 5-yard gain when America needs 80 yards to score.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.