House E&C Leaders: Communications Law Rewrite Coming

Fresh from convincing victories in their respective House races, House Energy & Commerce Committee chairman Fred Upton (R-Mi.) and Communications Subcommittee chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) outlined their priorities for the new Congress (the 114th), which includes beginning the rewrite of telecommunications law.

"We have also spent the past year gathering input and information to inform our work to bring the nation's communications laws into the 21st Century," they said in a joint statement Wednesday (Nov. 5). "Over the next several months, we will take what we have learned from our hearings and white papers to update the law to boost job creation and economic growth in the innovation era."

If past is prologue, that effort will take years, not months, but with Republicans in control of the Senate, it will likely be a more deregulatory proposal than if it had to negotiate a Democratic-controlled Senate. But the president could still veto any changes, like limiting FCC authority over broadband.

The Committee has been engaged in the preamble to that effort for the past year, issuing white papers and soliciting comment on what needs to be changed and how.

Both sides of the aisle agree communications laws should be updated for a digital age where the regulated industries no longer fit neatly in regulatory silos. But there remains plenty of political difference over how that should be done.

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.