FCC Chiefs Discuss The Industry

Following on the Public Policy lunch discussion between the FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn and and FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, the  bureau chiefs joined NCTA’s Rick Chessen for a discussion of the telecom sector.

William Lake, head of the Media Bureau at the Commission, says the Commission’s role is to prevent market failure while striking a balance in regulation that does not suppress investment and innovation.

That framework shaped much of the discussion as the conversation focused on new technologies that push the boundary of statutory definitions.  Even the audience got into the question asking the difference between an online MVPD and a content provider that carries video.

The FCC’s General Counsel indicates that challenge of understanding those definitions drives much of the commission’s work as they have to interpret definitions knowing the Congress and courts may step in and correct them.

Schlick noted other court challenges including one to an order related to pole attachment rates that has been challenged by the electric utilities.  The utilities have held that the Commission’s decision to lower the telecom rate to be more in line with the cable rate was in error and the cable rate should have gone up instead.

Moderator Rick Chessen asked about the FCC’s decision that broadband was not being deployed in a reasonable and timely manner.  Chessen specifically asked how, under the new yardstick, we would get back to a finding that it was short of 100% deployment and adoption.  Schlick defended the order saying the commission has express direction from Congress to address deployment under their direct authority in a way that is consistent with other sections of the telecom law.  He says their decision was based on the idea of promoting investment and competition contained in Section 706.

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Michael Turk is a Partner in CRAFT | Media / Digital, a full-spectrum communications agency.  Learn more about CRAFT at www.craftdc.com.

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