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Aiding Japan Disaster Relief Fundraising Efforts

Posted March 16th, 2011 by William Lake - Chief of the Media Bureau

While there have been other disasters during our lifetime, few are of the magnitude Japan is experiencing.  Over the weeks and months to come, much help will be needed to rebuild the lives of those affected by the continuing devastation the earthquake and tsunami have caused.  To assist with Japan relief efforts, the Federal Communications Commission today announced procedures on how noncommercial educational (NCE) stations can request a waiver to conduct on-air fundraising in support of these efforts.

The Commission’s rules generally prohibit NCEs from on-air fundraising on behalf of any entity other than the station itself.  However, the Commission has previously granted waivers for limited fundraising programs or for station appeals for disasters such as Hurricanes Andrew and Katrina, the Haiti 2010 earthquake, and the September 11th terrorist attack, among others.  Stations are already requesting waivers and we look forward to granting as many as we can in support of this important cause.

More information can be found in the public notice issued today.

Posted in Public Notices Media Bureau
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Putting FCC TEC in the right hands

Posted October 26th, 2010 by Steven VanRoekel - Managing Director, Federal Communications Commission

As part of this agency’s mission, the FCC supports the field of high-tech devices and solutions that are available to consumers all over the world.

Today, I’m pleased to announce the opening of the Tecnhnology Experience Center here at FCC headquarters. FCC TEC is an on-site technology lab that gives FCC employees and invited guests the chance to get their hands on the latest high-tech tools and toys and grow their understanding of this exciting field.

With the launch of FCC TEC, we’re growing our role as an expert technology agency here in Washington. By expanding FCC employees’ access to the latest technology, we’re continuously improving the agency’s expertise and awareness of a quickly changing -- and increasingly important -- high tech landscape.

FCC TEC also gives manufacturers and vendors the opportunity to display their latest devices in an environment designed for interaction, collaboration, and learning. As an avowed gadget geek myself, I’m particularly excited about expanding the relationship between the FCC and our industry partners, and growing FCC TEC. If you’re a manufacturer or vendor that’s interested in setting up a donation to FCC TEC click here.

One of the perks of my job is the privilege of working with FCC employees who help get some of the most innovative new tools and toys to consumers in the marketplace. I’m looking forward to ramping up FCC TEC and continuing to grow the expertise that our agency can provide for consumers and industry alike.

Posted in Public Notices Office Of Managing Director
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Consumer View: Stop the Shock

Posted May 11th, 2010 by Joel Gurin - Chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau

It could happen to anyone, and it happened to me.  Last year, I took on a consulting job that involved working out of town. Without realizing it, I began using my cell phone more frequently and for longer conversations.  By the time I caught the problem, my monthly bill had gone from about $300 a month to well over $500, two months in a row. I worked out a compromise payment with my carrier and changed to a plan with more monthly minutes. I had learned about bill shock first-hand.

Bill shock – surprising jumps in cell-phone bills that happen without warning – is a common and serious problem. The FCC’s Consumer Center receives complaints all the time from people whose bills may double or triple, going up by hundreds of dollars in a single month. Sometimes cell-phone carriers contact customers when they see an unusual calling pattern, as mine did, to their credit. Often they don’t, and the bills go up.

Bill shock has been a major problem in Europe, where you can go into an international calling zone, at international rates, with as little effort as it takes Americans to drive from one state to another. The European press has reported many cases of bills reaching thousands of Euros.  Now the European Union has taken action. Cell-phone carriers in Europe are now required to alert their customers when they’re approaching the limit of their calling plans. This simple solution, which has just gone into effect, should be a practical way to prevent bill shock. At the least, it will ensure that every customer has fair warning.

Today the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau of the FCC issued a Public Notice asking if there are any reasons that the European solution can’t be used in America, and inviting comment on other ways to prevent Bill Shock. This action is one of the first initiatives from the FCC’s new Consumer Task Force. Please let us know your thoughts on how to “stop the shock.” Here are some links to get involved:

• Read our Public Notice and press release
• Learn tips for avoiding bill shock
• If you’ve had a problem with bill shock that your carrier hasn’t resolved, you can reach our Consumer Center at 1-888-CALL-FCC (225-5322) or file a complaint online.
• Comment on the Public Notice for the record (Proceeding #09-158).
• And if you have a general comment on the subject, please add it to this blog below.


Posted in Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau Public Notices Consumers