Policy

Eshoo Praises Wheeler Experience

Suggests Telecom Lobbying Background Also Means Understanding of Key Issues 6/07/2013 5:49 AM Eastern

 Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), ranking member of the House Communications Subcommittee, does not appear to be too concerned about FCC chairman nominee Tom Wheeler's extensive communications industry lobbying background, historically a red flag for some Democrats including the Democratic President who nominated Wheeler.
 
Asked in an interview for C-SPAN's Communicators series about Wheeler's experience as a lobbyist atop the cable and cell phone trade associations and whether that was a concern in terms of his fairness, Eshoo said she didn't think there were very many people who would be free of that kind of background "unless we brought in a 22-year-old that simply has not had the time or experience in Washington."
 
She said that was a commentary on the system and a "rub to many people."
 
But she said that was only one of the bookends. The other, and one she suggested was even more important, was experience.  "You want someone who has a deep and broad understanding of the industries and the issues," she said. "The chairman is not there to favor a given industry, but to understand what those issues are."
 
She said Wheeler had a great deal of that important experience under his belt.
 
If the FCC's Open Internet order is overturned by the courts--Verizon has challenged them--Eshoo would introduce legislation to keep the Internet "open, accessible and free." Such legislation has virtually no chance in a Republican-controlled House, however.
 
Eshoo said she would prefer a "clean" reauthorization of STELA, the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act that provides a blanket license for satellite operators to deliver distant network TV station signals. "You don't want the effort to become a Christmas tree with many things dangling off of it," she said. But she also said if there are any issues that are legitimate to be "married" with the bill, there should be hearings on them.
 
Eshoo said she could not be sure the incentive auctions would be held in 2014, but said she thought the FCC was on track for that result.
 
Acting FCC chair Mignon Clyburn should not put off any big decisions until Wheeler is installed, she said. "I don't believe in driving with the emergency brake on," she said. "We should continue to conduct as much business as possible and I think she has the capability to do so."
 
Eshoo said her concern with Sen. John McCain's a la carte bill is the niche services that could be lost. "There is a reason for that packaging." But she also recognized the frustration of her constituents how don't see competition and do see their cable bills go up.
 
Eshoo, who represents Silicon Valley, said she was excited by Aereo, the TV station signal Internet delivery service broadcasters are suing. "I think it has the possibility of really revolutionizing TV as we know it," she said.
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