Hollings: Rereg Could Happen

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Could a cable reregulation law be on the way?

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

"The only reason we didn't reregulate cable — and I would think the next Congress will, I don't mind saying that — but the only reason we haven't done it is 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."

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

At the hearing, which explored the bankruptcy of WorldCom Inc. and its effect on millions of long-distance customers, Hollings did not elaborate on possible cable regulation that might materialize next year.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association declined to comment on Hollings's statement.

Hollings spokesman Andy Davis said the lawmaker was not preparing a cable regulation bill at this time.