Comcast Praises Republican Regulatory Reform Effort

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Kyle McSlarrow, president of Comcast/NBCU, Washington, praised a Republican draft of Federal Communications Commission reform proposals as an "excellent effort" to codify long-talked-about reforms.

One of those, preventing the FCC from imposing merger conditions that were not directly related to a deal's potential harms or voluntary conditions it could not apply in a general rule, was widely viewed as a response to the network neutrality condition in the FCC's Comcast/NBCU merger.

McSlarrow's statement came in response to a House Communications Subcommittee hearing Wednesday on that draft proposal, which was circulated by Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.).

"We have long held the position that modest reforms of FCC processes and procedures are appropriate against the backdrop of very different marketplace dynamics and real world FCC decisions over the last decade," said McSlarrow. "So, we applaud chairman Walden for submitting the discussion draft to codify such reforms. The discussion draft represents an excellent effort to codify regulatory reforms that have been discussed for many years in connection with proceedings of many different Commissions regardless of party or leadership. We look forward to continuing to working with the chairman, members of the Committee and the Administration in refining the legislation and ensuring that an appropriate set of reforms is enacted."

Kyle is former head of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. Current NCTA president and FCC reform fan Michael Powell also supported the reform effort in general, though he did not speak to the merits of the draft itself. "We applaud Chairman Walden and other members of the committee for their work in examining FCC reform ideas that may promote greater transparency and predictability in agency decision-making. Given today's increasingly competitive communications landscape, we appreciate efforts by the committee -- and by the Commission -- to engage in a ‘fresh look' at agency procedures and to free providers from unnecessary regulatory obstacles that impede the development of new, innovative consumer offerings."

The wireless industry was on board as well. "CTIA believes that chairman Walden's proposed legislation contains a number of elements that would promote predictability and transparency in the regulatory process," said the wireless association in a statement. "We look forward to ongoing discussions with Chairman Walden and his colleagues about how the FCC's process and authority can be improved and recast to better fit the realities of the twenty-first century's marketplace."

CTIA member Verizon added its support, but was looking for even broader change. "The discussion on procedural reform appears headed in the right direction, and many of the proposals discussed today would increase transparency, improve efficiency, and assist in clarifying the role of the federal government in the communications marketplace," said Peter Davidson, Verizon senior vice president of federal government relations. "While Verizon agrees with the need for procedural reform, we also encourage Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to continue looking more broadly at substantive reform of the statutory framework that governs this important market for consumers and the economy."