ACA Joins in With Net-Neutrality Suit

Add the American Cable Association to the fast-growing list of cable and telco trade groups suing the FCC over its new Open Internet order.

“Although the ACA and its small and medium-sized cable operator members supported the adoption of rules to protect the openness of the Internet, ACA is challenging the FCC’s ‘Open Internet Order’ today because the FCC’s specific means of achieving this common goal -- reclassifying broadband Internet providers as common carriers -- are legally unsupportable and a step backward," said ACA president Matt Polka.

Like the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, which also filed suit Tuesday, ACA had signaled that court action was an option after the FCC voted Feb. 26, along party lines, to reclassify ISP's as telecoms under Title II. Also like NCTA, ACA filed in the D.C. circuit.

Last time around -- in 2010 -- cable operators somewhat reluctantly signed on to the FCC's Sec. 706-based net neutrality rules as a compromise alternative to Title II-based rules, but there was no supporting the Title II option, which cable operators argue will chill investment and could open the door to rate regulation.

In its filing, ACA called the order "arbitrary, capricious, in excess of the FCC's statutory authority, contrary to the Constitution and otherwise not in accordance with law."

Two suits have already been filed and the D.C. Circuit has already been chosen to hear the case. But if suits are filed in more than one court in this new round of legal challenges, and the earlier filings are found to be premature, there could be a second lottery to choose the venue.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.