Washington — The FCC’s chairman defended his
upcoming “middle-ground” efforts to reclassify broadband
service under common-carrier regulations on
Capitol Hill last week, saying he opposes onerous new
regulations and favors continuing a “light-touch” approach
Julius Genachowski, testifying at a House Appropriations
subcommittee on June 9, fielded many questions on
the topic of reclassifying broadband, a prospect that has
already had a negative impact on cable stocks even before
the Federal Communications Commission formally
begins the process. The agency plans to begin a proceeding
to classify some of broadband under Title II commoncarrier
regulations at its June 17 meeting.
Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.), who chairs the subcommittee
reviewing the FCC’s budget, asked Genachowski when he
thought the FCC could put the reclassification issue behind
it. Genachowski did not provide a timetable but said the agency
would not put implementation of its broader, nationwide
plan for broadband development on hold while it resolves the
question of its own authority over broadband access.
Asked if he had support on the commission for his proposal,
Genachowski would not speak for his fellow commissioners.
Republican commissioners Robert McDowell
and Meredith Attwell Baker have both said they see no
marketplace failure justification for the imposition of
onerous new regulations, ranking subcommittee member
Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) pointed out.
Genachowski said he also opposed onerous new constraints
and that his “third-way” proposal does not include
“I support the restoration of the light-touch regime that
we have had,” Genachowski said.
The chairman also asked the Congress members for help in
reclaiming broadcast and other spectrum for mobile broadband.
He promised to take “full account” of over-the-air viewers,
and continued to maintain that the plan would benefit
broadcasters, viewers and the government, but said the government
needs to move fast to head off a spectrum crunch.
Congress needs to approve the FCC’s plan to use some
proceeds of that auction to compensate broadcasters for
giving up spectrum.