FCC's Wheeler: Oliver Net Neutrality Riff Was Creative

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler was among those who watched the John Oliver "Network Neutrality" explanation (from his HBO show) that became a YouTube hit (over 3.5 million and counting).

Wheeler told reporters Friday that he had watched it a couple of times. "I like John Oliver," he said. "I think it was creative and funny and," admitting he was "stealing a line" from Oliver's former Comedy Central colleague, Stephen Colbert, added, "He deserved a tip of the hat."

"Satire is not C-SPAN," said Wheeler. "However, I think that it represents the high level of interest that exists in the topic in the country, and that's good." Wheeler had already signaled that earlier in announcing a new inquiry into paid peering, pointing out that the FCC had received 19,000 e-mails in its open Internet query.

He said he would like to state for the record that he is "not a dingo." Oliver had pointed out that "the guy that used to run the cable industry's lobbying arm [Wheeler, former NCTA president] is now running the agency tasked with regulating it. That is the equivalent of needing a babysitter and hiring a Dingo," an invocation of the macabre catchphrase popularized by the film A Cry in the Dark, about the death of an Australian child killed by a dingo in 1980.

Wheeler conceded he had to look up what a dingo was (a feral dog native to Australia).

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.