FCC's Wheeler: Harmful Prioritization is DOA

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler says that if paid prioritization hurts consumers, competition, the virtuous cycle of innovation and investment, or degrades service it's "DOA," and he thinks it does just that.

That came in response to a question from reporters about President Obama's statements earlier this week about big media companies charging for faster service and the impact on innovation.

"In the United States," the President told a conference on African businesses, "one of the issues around net neutrality is whether you are creating different rates or charges for different content providers....And I personally—the position of my administration, as well as I think a lot of companies here—is you don’t want to start getting a differentiation in how accessible the Internet is to various users. You want to leave it open so that the next Google or the next Facebook can succeed."

In a press conference Friday, Wheeler reacted to those comments, which network neutrality proponents have read as the President's support of a ban on paid priorization.

"As I have testified before Congress and as I have said enumerable times here, anything that interferes with the virtuous cycle is something that can and should be prohibited." He also reiterated that he thinks prioritization interferes with that virtuous cycle.

Asked why he thought Sec. 706 authority for new net neutrality rules was the way to go given that it could allow for paid prioritization, Wheeler said the proposal was to say "here are some thoughts and here are a whole lot of other issues that also have to be addressed before you reach a final conclusion."

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.