Keep up with the latest developments and legal issues in the telecommunications and emerging technology sectors, with exclusive access to a comprehensive collection of telecommunications law news,...
By Kyle Daly
July 6 — Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune is eyeing a broad overhaul of communications law next year—regardless of which party is in control on Capitol Hill.
“I think it's time for Congress to be heard from on all these issues,” the South Dakota Republican told reporters July 6. “I hope next year, if we [Republicans] are in the majority, I'd like to do an update—do a modernization act.”
Thune said, however, that even if Democrats regain Senate control in the November elections, he believes lawmakers may still move to revamp the Communications Act.
“Even among Democrats, there is a belief that certainty is really important,” Thune said.
Lawmakers and communications policy insiders have talked about the prospect of a major update to the Communications Act for years. Any such update would be a heavy legislative lift likely addressing technologies such as wireline and wireless broadband that didn't exist the last time Congress overhauled the law in 1996.
The Communications Act was originally enacted in 1934. Thune said the age of the statute underlying the Federal Communications Commission's authority and a rash of legal challenges to FCC decisions in recent years have created a “cloud of uncertainty” around communications regulation.
Thune said he believes Democrats are “pretty happy with the status quo” and the actions of the current FCC and courts ruling on FCC challenges. Still, Thune said, there could be bipartisan consensus around an update, though it may take considerable time and effort to come to fruition.
“I'm sure the policy would probably be very different under a Democrat majority than it might be under a Republican majority, but anything that comes out of our committee and comes to the floor and makes it out of here, as you know, has got to have some bipartisan support,” Thune said. ”Updating the act would probably involve a lot of give and take, trying to find that middle ground that enables us to get something enacted, and I know how hard it's going to be. The '96 act was enormously difficult, and you had a lot fewer moving parts then than you do now.”
Thune's House counterparts began discussing the possibility of a Communications Act update right after a June appeals court ruling affirming the FCC's net neutrality rules.
Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), a senior House Energy and Commerce Committee member, said then that the decision underscored the need for a Communications Act update. Walden, chairman of the panel's Communications and Technology Subcommittee—and Shimkus' main rival for the gavel of the full committee in the next Congress—said updating the act had been Energy and Commerce's top priority until the battle over net neutrality sidelined those plans.
To contact the reporter on this story: Kyle Daly in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Keith Perine at email@example.com
Copyright © 2016 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)