Clyburn: Up To Marketplace To Set In-Flight Phone Policies

Commissioner Mignon Clyburn weighed in over the weekend on the chairman's proposal to modify the FCC's rules on in-flight cell phone use, saying it should be up to the marketplace to decide.

Wheeler circulated an item last week to expand access and choice of in-flight mobile broadband, after which he got some pushback from Capitol Hill. He clarified that the FCC item was about the technical feasibility of in-flight phone calls, but that the airlines would ultimeately decide about phone use. Clyburn agreed.

"Clearly, the travelling public is concerned about three things — (1) safety, (2) security, and (3) a reasonable zone of silence," Clyburn said in a statement. "government has well defined roles concerning the safety and security of Americans. But when it comes to providing a reasonable zone of silence, things are not so well defined.

"I think it's best to let competition and the marketplace regulate passenger engagements in flight. For while it is impossible for us to impose a gag rule on the flying public, I feel certain the airlines can, and will, find a workable solution."

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.