On Eve of FCC Vote, House Republicans, Democrats Talk Net Neutrality

The House Communications Subcommittee hearing on net neutrality showed just how far apart the Democrats and Republicans — at least the ones still on the subcommittee — are on the issue of new net neutrality rules.

Committee chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) started the hearing by criticizing FCC chairman Tom Wheeler for not making a draft of his proposed new rules public before the Feb. 26 vote. He said he had asked the chairman to make the process a little more open than usual, but said the new rule process was hardly usual as it prompted colorful protests, a riff by HBO's John Oliver and the President's use of his "weight" to steer the decision.

The hearing was framed by the Republican draft legislative proposal that its drafters say would prevent blocking, throttling and paid prioritization without imposing Title II common-carrier regulations. Republicans say that is a sensible way to preserve light-touch regs while protecting an Open Internet. Walden said it would "quell" uncertainty in the marketplace and prevent further FCC trips to the D.C. Circuit, "at least on this issue."

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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.