FCC proposes ‘09-’10 VRS rate cut
Sorenson squirms

On May 14, the FCC issued a "Notice of Proposed Rule Making" (NPRM) stating 'we should modify the compensation rates for Video Relay Service (VRS) for the 2009-2010 Fund year.'
The deadline for the filed comment period on this issue was initially set for June 4 but has been extended to July 6 due to objections from parties “to allow interested stakeholders more time to comment on the NPRM given its potential impact on the VRS industry”.

The ‘modifying’ they’re announcing is a projected CUT for ‘09-’10 funding of the per minute rate, negating the last year of the “contract” that was created in ‘07. That may come as a surprise to some. To others, not so shocking given the current economic crisis.

As a resident of Michigan, “ground zero” of economic chaos, chronic dismal expectations with the state economy have been experienced for a LONG period of time. Operating with less is the rule, not the exception. Government Motors, aka GM, has provided a reality check for thousands and thousands of people in Michigan. Are you watching California?!

Notwithstanding the current economic climate, Sorenson may have brought this “price drop” upon itself.

According to the FCC, the proposed compensation rate drop is “based on data reflecting the actual costs of providing this service”.
The “annual costs and demand data” were submitted in ‘06,’07 and ‘08 to the Fund Administer NECA by VRS providers as required. From those figures, the FCC calculated an approximate figure of $4.25 a minute. Two dollars less than the current 3 year monthly tiered rate of the over 500k minute rates.

Either Sorenson did not submit the mandated “actual operating” costs mentioned OR they have indeed raided the TRS fund as accused, pocketing MILLIONS of public monies without consequence.
So what gives ?

I can agree with Sorensons position that “theres more to be done” with VRS, as I documented in my ‘07 FCC letter, however, their approach of getting it done has been scrutinized with their “grab for the cash” on the TRS fund that was unveiled in a recent House report below.

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Allegations of refusing to co-operate with government audits where questions of over-charging surfaced, have left a “black-eye” on legitimate VRS providers who follow directions.
Suspicion of “calling the shots” can carry a price.

It has come to my attention Sorenson has unleashed a new campaign of “town hall” meetings for the purpose of soliciting the Deaf community and interpreters to bombard the FCC with comments on this rate issue.
The distributed generic letter, complete with Ron Burdetts endorsement, is finding its way to the FCC Docket # 03-123 public comment register reminiscent of the previous rate alert campaign of ‘07. Others are sure to follow.

This Town hall forum of propaganda looks to be a "first cousin" to the prohibited activity in an earlier FCC ruling banning VRS providers contacting / directing the Deaf for comment on FCC issues. (see excerpt)
Their desperation to bring light on this issue only reveals the apparent panic attack Sorenson is seeking to avoid.

Having to do more with less.
Parading the VP of Community Relations who cashes a weekly paycheck from the Town hall organizer as “spokeperson” for the Deaf community, reflects conflicting interests and another flagrant disregard for following the rules.

IF a rate cut was to become a reality, what can the Deaf, VIs and VRS providers expect ?
No one knows for sure but two things appear certain;
The FCC will continue to subsidize and oversee the TRS fund and a VRS provider naming the price on a VRS call from Wall St. will become a thing of the past.



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