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Your Consumer Advisory Committee

by: Scott Marshall, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau

March 16, 2011

The Consumer Advisory Committee (CAC) is yet another means by which the consumers’ voice is heard at the FCC.

Originally established in November 2000, CAC advises the commission on consumer issues within its jurisdiction and facilitates the participation of consumers -- including people with disabilities and underserved populations such as American Indians and persons living in rural areas -- in proceedings before the FCC.

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On December 30, 2008, the commission announced the rechartering of the Committee for a fifth two-year term thru November 2010. As a federal advisory committee, CAC membership is required by law to represent a balanced point of view.  Accordingly, of the committee’s 28 volunteer members, 12 represented interests of consumers, minorities and low-income communities, five represented the interests of people with disabilities, six represented the interests of Tribal, state and local governments and five represented the telecom industries.  Debra Berlyn, formerly of the Digital Television Transition Coalition and presently the National Consumers League, chaired the committee.  

Last November, the committee was rechartered for another two year term (PDF) through 2012. Applications for committee membership were solicited and are currently being reviewed.  It is expected that Chairman Genachowski will make appointments to the CAC in April.

A highlight of the CAC’s fifth term was two recommendations concerning the Consumer Information Disclosure Notice of Inquiry, CG 09-158 (PDF), which sought comment on whether there are opportunities to protect and empower consumers by ensuring sufficient access to relevant information about communications services.  These two recommendations , adopted by the committee in March and August of 2010, relate to the kinds of pre-sale disclosures consumers need when they are trying to make wise purchases of wireless, broadband, and other communication services.

For further information about the Consumer Advisory Committee, along with the recommendations referred to in this post, visit the Consumer Advisory Committee section of our website.  If you have any questions about the Committee please contact me, Scott Marshall, CAC's Designated Federal Officer, at scott.marshall [at] fcc [dot] gov.

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