Clyburn Defends Title II Reclassification


Democratic Federal Communications Commission commissioner Mignon Clyburn delivered a ringing defense of chairman Julius Genachowski's proposal to reclassify broadband under Title II.

Given fellow Democrat Michael Copps' long-standing support of Title II classification, the chairman would seem to have solid support for proceeding, even in the face of some strong pushback from Congress.
In a speech to media executives and reporters at a Media Institute luncheon in Washington Thursday, Clyburn took aim at criticisms that the proposal was applying old-style monopoly regs, that there was no major market shift that justifies the FCC's reversal of its decision to regulate broadband under Title I, and that it would create regulatory uncertainty.
She argued that the first was false on its face; that the FCC does not have to establish a major market shift to change its policy, though she said the BitTorrent decision was just such a shift; and that there is no such thing as regulatory certainty under any regulatory regime.
She pointed out that the wireless voice business has developed and drawn hundreds of billions of dollars in investment under a similar regime of regulation with forbearance. She also said that Title I classfication hardly provides certainty after the BitTorrent decision, which called the FCC's Title I authority over broadband into question. After that, she said, the only certainty would be that "a large number of lawyers don't have to worry about job security."
She gave a shout-out to proposals by top House and Senate Democrats to update the Communications Act to reflect the rise of broadband, but said Title II reclassification should continue apace.
In response to a question, she said she was not worried that proceeding with a Title II-plus-forbearance solution would jeopardize industry support for other issues, including invesment in the National Broadband Plan.
The FCC plans to start the reclassification process with a notice of inquiry launched at its June 17 meeting.
Responding to the FCC's announcement of a public forum on the Comcast/NBCU hearing, she said she had had already heard from people about hiring, procurement and programming concerns related to the deal.