NCTA Rips Title II As 'Massive Tax Increase'

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association is pushing the tax angle of Title II reclassification hard in Washington and elsewhere.

NCTA is running print and digital ads this week and next in some Hill-targeted D.C. publications, as well as The Washington Post, USA Today, WTOP, The Weather Channel and The Huffington Post, to tell consumers just what cable ops think Title II will mean to their monthly statements, which is in essence some government-supplied bill shock. "The 'T' in title II Stands for Taxes," NCTA warns, a point it has also made to the FCC.

"By imposing billions of dollars of new taxes on broadband service, Title II will be a massive tax increase on millions of American consumers," NCTA spokesman Brian Dietz said. "We think it’s important that consumers and policymakers understand that imposing this unprecedented and unnecessary regulation on the Internet comes with a significant price tag for most Americans."

The ad (shown above), cites a Progressive Policy Institute analysis that predicts consumer bills could soar (increase to close to $90 a year on average) under Title II.

The ad echoes NCTA's arguments that Title II will harm investment in and by ISP's and innovation in the sector. "The Only Thing Title II Won't Slow is the Tax Collector," NCTA said.

The FCC is currently contemplating Title II reclassification, some form of hybrid Title II and Sec. 706 authority, or a Sec. 706 approach to restoring no-blocking and no-unreasonable discrimination rules thrown out by a federal court. But there has been increased pressure to go the Title II route from network neutrality advocates, including the President of the United States.

The FCC is expected to vote on new rules sometime in the first quarter of 2015, but could seek comment on those various proposals in a separate item further teeing up that vote. It is not clear whether the FCC will simply proceed to a vote on however it modifies chairman Tom Wheeler's original Sec. 706-based network neutrality rule restoration or take the additional step of seeking comment on some of the responses to that original proposal.

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.