WASHINGTON — On Thursday, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a study to review previous reforms that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) implemented for the Lifeline Program. The GAO recommendedthat the FCC evaluate the extent to which the Lifeline Program is effectively and efficiently meeting its stated goal of ensuring the availability of telephone service for low-income Americans.
Some opponents of Lifeline, which provides a modest $9.25 per month subsidy to low-income families that subscribe to telephone service, have seized upon the GAO study to impugn the program or attempt to slow down future modernization efforts.
The following statement can be attributed to Jessica Gonzalez, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of the National Hispanic Media Coalition:
“I know from personal experience that Lifeline is a vital pathway out of poverty for millions of Americans. It allows its diverse subscriber base to contact healthcare professionals, explore employment and education opportunities, obtain social services and call 911 in the case of an emergency, protecting the life and limb of themselves and others. The GAO’s modest and reasonable suggestion that the FCC evaluate the program is good policy for any government initiative. It is not fodder for program detractors, who have already been so active in demonizing its recipients.”
“According to public statements of a majority of FCC Commissioners, and published reports, the FCC may be poised to conduct this evaluation process in the coming months as it looks to implement further reforms to the program and ensure that it is providing consumers access to modern means of telecommunications, like broadband. It is silly for program detractors to imply that, in order to evaluate the program, the FCC should put on hold current efforts to evaluate the program through a potential Notice of Proposed Rulemaking process. Thorough program evaluation is baked into that process and, if the Commission is currently considering opening a new proceeding, it should do so without delay.”
“Those who seek to delay the FCC process are spitting in the faces of millions of Americans who today lack broadband access because it is too expensive. They should allow the FCC to do its job and study this issue with the depth and breadth it so deserves. Otherwise, they are actively contributing to a digital divide that negatively affects employment, education and civic engagement opportunities for the American poor.”
Access NHMC’s history of advocacy in support of Lifeline, here.
The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) is a media advocacy and civil rights organization for the advancement of Latinos, working towards a media that is fair and inclusive of Latinos, and towards universal, affordable, and open access to communications. Learn more at www.nhmc.org. Receive real-time updates on Facebook and Twitter @NHMC.]]>