Hollings: Cable Rereg Possible Next Year

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An effort to reregulate the cable industry is a possibility starting next
year, Senate Commerce Committee chairman Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.) said Tuesday at
a hearing on the financially troubled telecommunications sector.

'The only reason why we didn't reregulate cable -- and I would think the next
Congress will, I don't mind saying that -- but the only reason why we haven't it
done is because that's been the only competition to the Bell companies on
getting us the broadband,' Hollings said.

'That's the actual fact here at this particular level in the Congress,' he
added.

Hollings helped to pass a cable-regulation law in 1992, then supported
legislation in 1996 that relaxed terms of the 1992 law effective March 31,
1999.

Hollings did not elaborate on possible cable regulation at the hearing, which
explored the WorldCom Inc. bankruptcy and its impact on millions of
long-distance customers.

In testimony, Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell urged
the Senate to give the agency more power to ensure that nontelecommunications
carriers, such as cable operators and Internet-backbone providers, are not
allowed to cut off customers suddenly after filing for bankruptcy.

Hollings said he favored passing such a law as soon as
possible.

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