House Committee Leaders Signal Revamp of Communications Act

Key leaders in the House Energy and Commerce Committee this week signaled their intention to review and revamp the Communications Act. Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Communications Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) used a Google Hangout on Tuesday to announce their plans. Rep. Upton stated, “We must ensure that our laws make sense for today but are also ready for the innovations of tomorrow.” Rep. Walden added, “We plan to look at the Communications Act and all of the changes that have been made piecemeal over the last 89 years and ask the simple question: ‘Is this working for today’s communications marketplace?’ Our goal is to make sure this critical sector of our economy thrives because of the laws around it, not in spite of them.” Notably, in a speech at the Hudson Institute the next day, Rep. Walden also commented that this proposed Communications Act review is the more appropriate venue for cable law debates, rather than in the reauthorization of an expiring satellite law in 2014.

Congressman John Dingell (D-MI), former Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, responded, “As the author of every major telecommunications statute for the past three decades, I caution my Republican colleagues to approach modernizing the Communications Act with great care and attention to detail. Changes should not be made simply for change’s sake, but rather based on clear and documented need.”

As part of this multi-year effort, the Communications Subcommittee intends to release a series of white papers making inquiries about ways to improve communications law. The panel is encouraging the public to stay updated and to offer thoughts online using the Twitter hashtag #CommActUpdate.

• Learn more from the House Energy and Commerce Committee here.

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: December 6, 2013