House Communications Subcommittee Schedules Dec. 10 Net Neutrality Hearing

It didn't take long for House Republicans to try and get the FCC commissioners to Capitol Hill to explain the current state of their network neutrality rule revamp.

The House Energy & Commerce Committee's Communications Subcommittee has scheduled a Dec. 10 FCC oversight hearing on network neutrality.

A committee source confirmed that it had reached out to all of the commissioners as well as chairman Tom Wheeler, but had not heard back—the reaching out had only started Wednesday.

“Ignoring the term ‘independent agency,’ the president this week wanted the world to know who was boss when it comes to net neutrality," said Energy & Commerce Committee chairman Fred Upton (R--Mich.). The President announced his support for reclassifying Internet access under Title II common carrier regs, which is a nuclear option for ISPs and most Republicans. "As the FCC moves closer to a vote that could put the government in control of the Internet, it is imperative that the Congress hears directly from all five commissioners and leading stakeholders. The Internet has thrived as a beacon of technological advancement, social connectivity, and economic growth because the FCC and Congress have rightly decided that a hands-off approach is best."

“While the president remains steadfast in his support for a government take-over of another critical piece of the American economy, the FCC commissioners must remain resolute in our nation’s commitment to keep the Internet free of government control," said Communications Subcommittee chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.). "The commission’s vote may be weeks or months off, but this issue is critical to the future growth of the American economy. Treating the Internet as a public utility would tie the hands of job creators, stifle innovation on the information superhighway, and hurt consumers by depriving them of the freedom of choosing the services they want."

Upton, Walden and every other GOP member of the House Energy & Commerce and Senate Commerce Committees sent a letter to Wheeler opposing Title II. Wheeler has said he will take the President's views into account, but as an independent agency, the FCC must make the final call based on the fact. But he also said he shared the President's desire for an Open Internet, no blocking or throttling and no paid prioritization.

Wheeler aide Gigi Sohn said Wednesday she did not expect new rules to be done by the end of the year, but signaled it could be by January.

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.