House Hears from Former FCC Chairmen on Communications Act Review

Four FCC chiefs offered their insight on current communications law to Members of the House Energy & Commerce Committee this week.  Former FCC Chairmen Dick Wiley (R), Reed Hundt (D), Michael Powell (R), and Michael Copps (D) spoke to the Communications Subcommittee on a wide range of issues. Internet governance was high on their minds in the wake of this week’s decision by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to strike down significant portions of the FCC’s 2010 Open Internet Order (also known as “net neutrality”), but not rejecting the right of the FCC to regulate the Internet. Broadcasting rules were also of interest, particularly as Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) suggested a need for TV law changes and highlighted her thoughts about changing cable platforms’ basic service tier, which includes broadcaster channels.

This was the first of the committee’s “#CommActUpdate” hearings in its multi-year review of the Communications Act. Notably, the Energy & Commerce Committee last week also released its first in a series of white papers seeking stakeholder comment in this process. Chairman Walden (R-OR), joined by full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), stated, “This is the first step in a multi-year open and transparent effort and we look forward to broad input from the many interested parties.” Comments to the committee on this first paper are requested by January 31.

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: January 17, 2014