Dorgan, DISH Say Time For Title II

net neutrality advocate and retiring North Dakota Democratic Senator
Byron Dorgan called on the FCC to reclassify broadband in the wake of
news that a compromise bill to clarify the FCCs'
broadband regulatory authority was not materializing anytime soon. He
was joined by DISH Network, which sent out a statement in support of

"While I
appreciate all the work that has been done in the House on net
neutrality, I continue to believe that the best way to preserve the free
and open Internet is for the FCC to act now to reclassify
broadband under Title II," said Dorgan. "All of us who believe in an
Internet without gatekeepers or tollbooths should be calling on Chairman
Genachowski to reclassify broadband in a manner that re-imposes the
nondiscrimination rules on the large Internet

Dorgan said
he was responding to the urging of House Energy and Commerce Committee
Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) that the FCC reclassify now that House
Republicans, in Dorgan's words, have "abandoned"
efforts at compromise.

Waxman, who
spearheaded the negotiations on a compromise bill, said in a statement
Wednesday that he thought the door was still open to a compromise bill
after the elections, but that "if our efforts
to find bipartisan consensus fail, the FCC should move forward under
Title II."

Since the
statement said if efforts fail, rather than citing the failure of the
current effort, it was not clear whether he meant the FCC should wait to
see whether the door opened after the election
to reclassify, or to proceed at its own pace. A spokeswoman for the
committee said the statement spoke for itself.

That statement verbatim was: "I do not close the door on moving legislation this
Congress. Cooler heads may prevail after the elections. But I want
my position to be clear: my goal is the best outcome for consumers. If
our efforts to find bipartisan consensus fail, the FCC should move
forward under Title II.  The bottom line is that we must protect the
open Internet.  If Congress can't act, the FCC must."

Certainly Dorgan read it as a call to immediate action, as did network neutrality backers Public Knowledge and Free Press.
Count DISH as among those calling on the FCC to reclassify.

In a
statement Thursday, the satellite operator said:"DISH Network applauds
the efforts of Chairman Waxman and his staff to move the ball forward in
the open internet debate. DISH Network believes
that an open internet -- free from discrimination on wireline and
wireless networks -- will spur competition, investment, innovation and
create jobs.  Given that Congress was not able to reach a compromise, it
is essential that the FCC act now under its "Third
Way" approach. The FCC needs a sound jurisdictional foundation to
implement sensible ‘rules of the road' for the protection of consumers
and competition."

The "third
way" is FCc Chairman Julius Genachowski's proposal to reclassify
broadband transmissions under Title II common carrier regs, but not
applying most of those regs so that Title II serves as
the regulatory underpinning for expanding and codifying the FCC's
network neutrality principles. Its authority to enforce them was called
into question by the BitTorrent ruling.   

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.