The Telecommunications Law Resource Center is the most comprehensive reference and news platform for communications law, covering broadcasting, cable, broadband, telephony and wireless;...
Dec. 3 --Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Greg Walden (R-Ore.), the respective chairmen of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and its Communications and Technology Subcommittee, said they will launch a multi-year effort to rewrite the Communications Act of 1934.
They made the announcement during a Google Hangout session.
In 2014, the committee will hold hearings and develop a number of white papers to “find out what is going on today and find out what questions we need to ask ourselves and the industry,” Upton said. The ultimate goal is to use those hearings and white papers to launch an update of the Communications Act in 2015.
Walden agreed that the committee should reevaluate whether the nation's telecommunications laws have kept up with the times.
“Clearly they are old and a lot has changed,” he said. “The industry is being regulated by a regulatory agency that was created during the Great Depression and last updated when 56 kilobytes per second via dial-up modem was state of the art.”
Lawmakers from both parties have said they are interested in updating the laws governing the nation's telecommunications and video marketplace, namely the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992 and the Communications Act. Walden's subcommittee has already held several hearings this year to evaluate the state of the video, audio and data marketplaces.
Walden did not say whether he will offer a “clean” draft bill to reauthorize the 2010 Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA), which permits satellite providers to retransmit broadcast television signals. Walden previously said he would release a draft STELA reauthorization bill no later than April 2014. STELA is set to expire on Dec. 31, 2014.
Satellite companies are “now in a different place than they were when the Satellite Home Viewer Act was passed,” Walden said. “You have broadcasters with their set of issues and then you've got all these other kinds of video services that come over the Internet that may not have any of that regulation attached to it,” he said. “How do you make a competitive marketplace for consumers where you have more choice, more product and better prices?”
Some in the telecommunications industry were eyeing STELA as a legislative vehicle that could provide Congress with the opportunity to update the nation's communications laws. The House and Senate Judiciary committees share jurisdiction over STELA with the House and Senate Commerce committees.
Meanwhile, subcommittee ranking member Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) is planning to formally introduce her Video Consumers Have Options in Choosing Entertainment Act, industry sources told Bloomberg BNA. The legislation seeks to prevent companies from blacking out TV content during retransmission consent negotiations by authorizing the FCC to grant TV broadcast carriage during a negotiation impasse. Eshoo's spokesman declined to comment.
Eshoo's draft bill would allow consumers to decide whether they want to buy access to local TV stations that elect retransmission consent as part of their cable or satellite TV service. The bill would prohibit TV broadcast stations from bundling their owned or affiliated cable programming in retransmission consent negotiations.
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) plans to reintroduce a separate bill this month that would overhaul many of today's most contentious video marketplace laws, his spokesman told Bloomberg BNA. The Next Generation Television Marketplace Act (H.R. 3675) would remove the regulations that govern negotiations between television networks and pay-TV companies for the right to retransmit broadcast programming. Lawmakers and the FCC have sought to address the issue following much-publicized blackouts of local TV stations, sometimes lasting weeks, for millions of customers of cable and satellite companies.
National Cable and Telecommunications Association President Michael Powell applauded Upton and Walden's announcement in a news release. Powell said the cable industry has “long maintained that many of the laws governing the communications marketplace are frayed. Since their creation, the landscape has been transformed--new, unimagined products and services as well as dramatic changes in market structure,” he said.
Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen commended Upton and Walden for “beginning the conversation on changing the Communications Act for the 21st Century,” according to a news release. “In the nearly 18 years since the last update of the Communications Act, the world has been revolutionized by broadband and new digital technologies. The silos of current regulation may not always fit technological realities.”
USTelecom President Walter B. McCormick said the group will work with the committee members as they “explore how best to assure American leadership in the information age, and to secure for our nation's consumers the full benefits of innovation, investment, and robust competition.”
Jot Carpenter, vice president of government affairs at CTIA-The Wireless Association, said he hopes Congress will “continue to adhere to a 'light-touch’ approach to wireless regulation and use this effort not to impose new obligations, but rather to encourage the deployment of advanced wireless infrastructure and streamline the regulatory process.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Bryce Baschuk in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Heather Rothman at firstname.lastname@example.org
Watch the Google Hangout here: https://plus.google.com/events/cer3s9l6j41e9ml99d6in7v9m4k.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)