Watch Out - Congress to Rewrite the Communications Act

While the Communications Act is in definite need for a radical re-thinking with an eye on equitable access, affordability and expanded public interests protections, the thought of this reform effort launching under current House leadership should be cause for alarm.

Leading the charge is House Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) who last attempted this in 2006 when he championed the troubled national video franchise legislation written by AT&T. His effort then was to get the bill into conference where the real decisions are made (behind closed doors and away from public scrutiny). AT&T failed in that effort, but succeeded in passing their legislation in 20 states accomplishing the same goal. In CA, AT&T gave us DIVCA and succeeded in exiling local PEG channels to a CH99 ghetto menu and altering funding streams to create fiscal instability for media centers around the state.

We'll follow this closely - so stayed tuned! In the meanwhile check the links below. That AT&T is giddy with the prospects of rewriting the Communications Act with Upton should be enough cause for concern. We've already seen this movie before and it ended badly.

House to re-write foundational communications law
Originally published: December 3, 2013
Source: The Hill, Author: Brendan Sasso

The leaders of the House Commerce Committee announced that they will begin re-writing the Communications Act, a foundational law that regulates the television, telephone and Internet industries.

Updating the act will be a multi-year effort, and each potential change will likely prompt intense lobbying from powerful industry groups. The Communications Act, which outlines the power of the Federal Communications Commission, dates back to 1934, and was last updated in 1996. House Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) said the communications and technology sectors were "stalwarts of our national economy" throughout the economic downturn. "We must ensure that our laws make sense for today but are also ready for the innovations of tomorrow,” he said. Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), the chairman of the subcommittee on Communications and Technology, said that when the Communications Act was last updated 18 years ago, "no one could have dreamed" of the coming advances in the Internet. The committee will begin its review with a series of hearings and white papers in 2014.

Links to Sources

House to re-write foundational communications law

Chairmen Upton and Walden Announce Plans to Update the Communications Act (press release)

Statement (FCC Commissioner Pai)

Statement (AT&T)

House Lawmakers Launch Process to Update Aging Communications Laws (AdWeek)

Upton, Walden Plan To Update Comm. Act (TVNewsCheck)

Hold onto your hats: Congress wants to tackle the telecommunications laws again (GigaOm)