WASHINGTON, March 4, 2015 - At today's American Cable Association Summit, Rep. Greg Walden, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, called the FCC's February 26 vote to reclassify broadband Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act a "total overreach," adding that the decision was "illogical" and "illegal."
"It's a fiction that the FCC is an independent agency," Rep. Walden (R-Ore.) told the standing room-only crowd of independent cable leaders during a Q&A with ACA President and CEO Matt Polka at ACA's 22st Summit. "It's a relationship directly out the of the White House. That is a tragedy for the professionals at the FCC."
Rep. Walden said he believes legislation is a more appropriate method for addressing Net Neutrality. "We could [put] a stop [to] all the potential bad behavior that people are concerned about - throttling, paid prioritization, blocking - we could present all that legislatively," he said. "There is no proof of market failure. If there's market failure or monopolistic practice, then I'm all in," he added.
During the Q&A, Rep. Walden also cautioned that the courts could make the impact of the new regulations even more onerous. "[FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler] is saying we'll forbear against anything that will cause a problem. What if the court says, ‘You haven't done the proper process for that forbearance,' and strikes down all the forbearance and leaves total Title II utility-style regulation. That's a very real possibility," he warned.
Rep. Walden also cautioned small cable operators in attendance about the chilling impact new Title II regulations will have on investment. "I've talked to companies that are pretty involved in this. They have told me they expect a 20% to 30% reduction in their investment," he said. Reports are that "In Europe, they are gleeful, because they know money will move there for investment," Walden added.
Taking place March 3-5 in Washington, D.C., the ACA Summit is a forum that allows independent cable operators to come in close contact with America's top lawmakers, regulators and journalists to discuss the vital communications issues of our time.
The event is taking place at the Grand Hyatt, 1000 H Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20001. Please visit the ACA Summit 2015 website by clicking here: ACA Summit.
Created in the early 1990's, the ACA Summit gives independent cable operators a vehicle for framing the issues in their own words during dozens of meetings on Capitol Hill over a short period of time. More so than ever, ACA Members agree on the need to speak with one voice and to be as visible as possible in making their views known on the diverse and complex issues facing their companies.
ACA's more than 800 independent cable operators play a unique role in providing best-in-class communications services to millions of consumers, many living and working in rural areas of the country. These operators also are competitive providers of cable service in urban areas, bringing choice and price competition to consumers. When it comes to responding to the critical broadband infrastructure needs of America, ACA Members are supplying the solutions.
About the American Cable Association: Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing about 850 smaller and medium-sized, independent cable companies who provide broadband services for more than 7 million cable subscribers primarily located in rural and smaller suburban markets across America. Through active participation in the regulatory and legislative process in Washington, D.C., ACA's members work together to advance the interests of their customers and ensure the future competitiveness and viability of their business. For more information, visit http://www.americancable.org/
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