Allbritton Backs Title II Reclassification

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In a filing at the Federal Communications Commission, Allbritton Communications, which owns TV stations, the Politico newspaper, a regional cable news channel, and their associated Web sites,  says commission chairman Julius Genachowski's "third way" proposal is the right way.

"After careful review and consideration of chairman Genachowski's proposal for the "third way," Allbritton finds it to be a reasoned and enforceable framework that will prevent abuses on wired and mobile Internet, and is pleased to support it," said the company.

The "third way" was the chairman's proposal to reclassify broadband transmission as a common carrier service under a handful of those regs as a way to clarify its broadband oversight authority and expand and codify its Internet openness principles.

Allbritton told the commission that with more people accessing its news and information online, an open Internet is vital, and that mobile access to that content is key to its future plans.

"An Internet controlled by gatekeepers with incentives to favor their own content - a very real possibility without the FCC's intervention - would have stymied past growth, and may very well stunt wired and mobile Internet innovation far into the future should broadband providers be left entirely unregulated," the company argues. "This situation would be exacerbated where carriers also provide competitive program offerings."

Allbritton did not mention the proposed Comcast-NBC Universal merger, but it has been arguing at the FCC that the deal would pose a threat because of the potential for Comcast to favor its Web sites over politico.com or TBD.com, the site that hosts content from its WJLA Washington and News Channel 8 video offerings.

"Carriers will have the opportunity and the means to favor that content owned by the carrier or offered by carrier-business partners all while slowing down or entirely blocking speech they find competitive for any reason," Allbritton said in support of the "third way." Without the FCC's intervention, wireless and wireline distributors will be capable of single-handedly controlling the modern news cycle."

It was the FCC's smackdown of Comcast over blocking BitTorrent peer-to-peer file transfers that prompted the Title II reclassification proposal after a federal court through out that decision as insufficiently supported in law.

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