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MMTC to FCC: Oregon Cable Fee Troubling

The Multicultural Media, Telecom & Internet Council has joined with a handful of groups to raise a red flag at the FCC over an Oregon Supreme Court ruling upholding a 7% fee on broadband provided by cable operators.

They argue that it is an attempt to circumvent the Internet Tax Freedom Act, which Congress made permanent in 2016.

The Permanent ITFA prevents states and localities from imposing taxes on internet access, but the Oregon court ruled that the 7% levy, imposed by the city of Eugene, was a license rather than a tax. 

It is also concerned that other states and localities, which fought ITFA, will follow suit given the signal from the court.

Related: NCTA Stakes Out Pole Position in Infrastructure Inquiry

MMTC wants the FCC to preempt the Eugene fee and any similar ones that might follow.

"The Federal Communications Commission is wise to seek comment on fees that harm adoption and deployment of broadband [the FTC has launched a notice of inquiry into clearing away local and state impediments, including preemption], and we implore the Commission to ban fees like those imposed by Eugene," they wrote the FCC. "ITFA was established to protect consumers from expensive broadband access fees or taxes. The FCC must use its platform to support ITFA policy, as it will result in a tremendous public interest benefit in ensuring that every American has affordable access to the digital economy."

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.