A Large Cable TV Lobby Group Asks the FCC to Make Changes to Net Neutrality





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The Federal Communications Commission announced today that it will be voted to begin the process of bringing back the net neutrality rules that were removed in 2017. Now, there will be an official vote to impose net neutrality rules on April 25th, 2024. Now, the lobby group ACA Connects representing over 500 small and medium-sized cable TV, internet, and phone providers has raised concerns about this plan.

In a statement to the FCC today, the ACA Connects said about the new Net Neutrality rules: ” However, our Members are seriously concerned with the broader impact of Title II regulation of their broadband service. This regulatory framework is both vague and far-reaching, especially the self-executing commands of Sections 201 and 202. To run every planned service offering or construction project through the filter of what is “just” or “reasonable”, with scant guidance on what those terms mean, would be a daunting task for any smaller provider with limited staff and resources, especially one that is unfamiliar with Title II regulation. The “general conduct” rule is no better: its “no-unreasonable interference/disadvantage standard” is infinitely malleable4 and appears to permit regulation of rates despite the Draft Order’s protestations to the contrary.5 Notably, neither the California law nor any other State open Internet law imposes regulation on providers that approximates the breadth and reach of Title II. Moreover, the proposed mandates would apply “over and above” the bright-line conduct rules, so the Draft Order’s suggestion that providers “will find ample guidance about the application of sections 201 and 202 via our open Internet rules” misses the mark.”

This all comes as the the Internet and Television Association NCTA, which represents larger cable TV companies, has vowed to fight this with litigation. In a statement about the upcoming vote, they said: “In the absence of any harm, the FCC is barreling ahead with a backward-looking, unnecessary proposal. Its repeated legal flip-flopping has become a tiresome political ritual unmoored from congressional direction that radically upends what should be a stable regulatory environment. But this time, reimposing heavy-handed regulation will not just hobble network investment and innovation, it will also seriously jeopardize our nation’s collective efforts to build and sustain reliable broadband in rural and unserved communities. We urge the FCC to reverse course to avoid years of litigation and uncertainty.”

This lobby group includes some of the biggest cable TV companies, including Comcast, Spectrum, Cox Communications, GCI, Mediacom, Midco, and others. Its board of directors includes executives from AMC, A+E Networks, Warner Bros. Discovery, The Walt Disney Company, Fox News, and others.

The rules, first introduced in 2015, designated the internet service providers as Title II companies, which are more akin to gas and electric companies, with heavier oversight. They made it through a legal challenge in court before the following administration ordered their dismantling (read the full history of net neutrality here).

The new take on the rules would be similar to the 2015 version, and will likely be challenged in court again.

“The FCC’s proposal to reinstate Title II regulation of broadband is not only misguided – it is a missed opportunity,” said Grant Spellmeyer, CEO of ACA Connects, a trade group made up of smaller cable and internet providers. “We should be working together to improve broadband access and adoption for all Americans, not relitigating the regulatory battles of the past.” 

Now it seems both large and small cable TV companies have real concerns about the new Net Neutrality rules that they hope to address.

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