House Judiciary Plans March 17 Net Neutrality Hearing

The House Judiciary Committee has told FCC chairman Tom Wheeler it plans to hold a March 17 hearing on the FCC's new Title II-based network neutrality rules.

In a letter to Wheeler dated the day after the Feb. 26 vote, the majority of Republicans on the committee said they will not "stand by idly as the White House, using the FCC, attempts to advance rules that imperil the future of the Internet."

That is a reference to the President's urging last fall that Wheeler use Title II to restore net neutrality rules thrown out by the court last year.

They called the new rules a "partisan headline for a partisan initiative that is destined for years of litigation, generating years of debilitating uncertainty."

In the letter, they said they were hoping he would testify at the hearing, but that it would be held regardless to "allow for public debate regarding the impact of the FCC's rules on the future of competition and the Internet."

The FCC voted along party lines to approve the new rules, and outlined them at the meeting. But stakeholders are still awaiting release of the final language, which Republican commissioners have warned is "worse" than advertised. The rules won't become effective until 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, which will likely be a couple of weeks at least after the final order is released. That won't happen until the FCC has reviewed any technical edits and taken into account the dissents of the two minority commissioners.

All five commissioners are already slated to testify at a March 18 hearing on the rules in the Senate Commerce Committee, according to committee chairman John Thune (R-S.D.).

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.