Sununu Preparing Bill on FCC Tech Mandates


Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.) is preparing legislation that would ban the Federal Communications Commission from imposing technology mandates on media and telecommunications companies under the agency's jurisdiction.

Sununu, who didn't say when he would unveil the bill, said in a prepared statement Monday that it would mirror an amendment he placed in a Senate telecommunications bill that died last year over the scope of regulatory protections for Google, Yahoo! and eBay in the face of discriminatory conduct by providers of high-speed-Internet access, such as cable and phone companies.

In the statement, Sununu didn't say whether his legislation would stop the FCC from ordering cable companies to rely on the CableCARD in all newly issued set-top boxes after July 1. He did say that the ban would apply to the broadcast flag, an anti-piracy technology for over-the-air digital television. A federal court struck down the FCC's broadcast-flag rules.

Sununu press secretary Jeff Grappone added in a later e-mail, “Specific situations will be considered as the process of drafting the legislation moves forward. The intent is to prevent the FCC from having the authority to impose such solutions on industry.”

“Whether well-intentioned or not, the FCC has no business interfering in private industry to satisfy select special interests or to impose its own views,” Sununu said. “My legislation will ensure that decisions about the design and development of products and services to meet FCC rules are made by technology experts, not government regulators."

It's unlikely that Sununu's pending bill will become law by July 1 and in time to stop the FCC's cable set-top-box mandates, assuming that the bill covered those rules.

Sununu, a member of the Commerce Committee, gained approval of his technology amendment when the Republicans controlled the panel. For the next two years, Democrats are in charge.