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Hutchison To FCC: Stand Down on Net Neutrality

Calling it regulatory overreach, Republican
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Wednesday asked FCC Chairman
Julius Genachowski to "stand down" from implementing net
neutrality rules, or else.

The chairman signaled a vote on the rules late
Tuesday night, releasing a tentative Dec. 21 meeting agenda with an item billed
as "adopting basic rules of the road to preserve the open Internet as a
platform for innovation, investment, competition, and free expression."

The chairman at the same time circulated the order
to the other commissioners for their input. A source says, as expected, the
item relies on existing Title I authority rather than anticipating
reclassifying broadband under Title II common carrier regs.

Hutchison had plenty of input. "I have not
seen any evidence to date that would justify this regulatory overreach,"
she said in a statement. " In fact, the Internet has developed and thrived
precisely because it has not been weighed down with burdensome government

"I am especially troubled that this action would
occur without Congressional input and before the new members of Congress have
been sworn in," she said. "The American people clearly repudiated
this type of government expansion on November 2nd. FCC
Chairman Genachowski needs to stand down from his plans to impose onerous
net neutrality restrictions."

And the "or else" part? "If he
decides to move forward, I will explore all options available to keep the FCC
from implementing regulations that will threaten the innovation and job
creation opportunities associated with the Internet."

One move would be a rarely-used
legislative maneuver to invalidate the rule. Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.)
used it to try and block FCC media ownership rule changes, but did not succeed.
Dorgan is all for the FCC's net neutrality regs, having signed on to a letter
Tuesday encouraging the compromise approach. That letter was also signed by
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) chair of the Senate Communications Subcommittee,
and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), former chair of the House Communications
Subcommittee, has also said he would try and block an FCC net neutrality order,
whether or not the FCC had the authority to do it.

John Eggerton
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.