Yesterday's FCC meeting on Net Neutrality was entertaining, given it was truly one of the more partisan events at that agency in a long time. The key question at the end of the meeting was whether the new rules will lead to market stability or uncertainty and litigation. There are some hopeful signs, such as this post from the American Cable Association (ACA), praising the balance of the approach, while suggesting the open docket regarding Title II regulation of broadband providers be closed. On the other hand, Verizon believes that the FCC is overreaching in their statutory authority with regards to the proposed rules; .
Underpinning the FCC’s argument as to why they can regulate is section 706 of the 1996 Communications Act which, “directs the FCC to ‘encourage the deployment on a reasonable and timely basis’ of 'advanced telecommunications capability’ to all Americans.” They go on to say that in July 2010 the FCC concluded that the deployment of broadband is not reasonable and timely, triggering section 706(b); the basis for their ruling.
They rely on Title II for protecting VoIP services, Title III for ensuring open Internet in wireless and Title VI for promoting competition in video services. Title VI is the power Congress gave the FCC to regulate and ensure competition among cable television providers (now known as Multichannel Video Program Distributors – MVPDs).
My question for the lawyers out there in the Viodi View audience is:
Could the justification of Title VI as a way to protect internet video providers from being discriminated against by MVPDs also be used as a basis for regulating those very same internet video providers?
That is, could the FCC use Title VI to mandate that internet video providers support things such as must-carry, closed captioning, obscenity, advertising limits, etc.?1 I may not be the only one thinking that this is a possibility, as I have noticed an uptick in views of an article, that I wrote a couple of years ago, on proposed legislation that would have had regulated Internet Video; of course the interest in my other article may have to do more with the image of Charlotte Ross.
If I am right, advocates for unregulated internet video may have gotten more than they wanted.
What do you think?
1Interestingly, at the same meeting regarding Net Neutrality, the FCC did approve a plan for a Next Generation EAS that moves beyond the phone and embraces broadband and wireless.