NCTA's McSlarrow Explains Backing for Net-Neutrality Order

Washington -- National Cable & Telecommunications
Association CEO Kyle McSlarrow said in a letter to members of Congress on
Monday that the association supports the Federal Communications Commission's
new network-neutrality rules -- ones he helped negotiate -- but primarily
because they "largely" codify what cable operators already do,
provide at least some measure of regulatory certainty, and beat the alternative
of Title II classification.

McSlarrow's letter was in response to a query from
Republican leaders on the House Energy & Commerce Committee as to whether
the rules were necessary, equitable and did anything to promote the economy or
job creation.

McSlarrow said NCTA supported the rules, which McSlarrow
helped negotiate as a compromise from an original Title II classification
proposal, for four reasons: "1) it largely codifies the status quo practices
to which the industry has voluntarily committed; 2) it contains helpful
clarifying language around such issues as what constitutes 'reasonable network
management;' 3) it provides greater certainty about our ability to manage and
invest in our broadband services today and those we may deploy in the future ;
and 4) the alternative of Title II regulation (which had three likely FCC votes
in support and was the only likely alternative), with the attendant risks of
unbundling and rate regulation, presented a stark and much worse risk to
continued investment and job creation."

McSlarrow suggested the rules would not boost the economy or
jobs, but would allow for continued investment, return on investment, and job
creation. At best, if administered "modestly," and with
"regulatory humility," he suggested, the regulations would
"promote continued investment and job creation."

But he also had a warning for the legislators. "If
implemented and enforced in ways that are more expansive than the plain
language of the Order supports, there could certainly be an adverse economic
impact by chilling the willingness to deploy new services," he said.

"Continued" was the operative word in all
McSlarrow's responses about what the rules would do, making the point that the
industry would be doing these things without the regulations as well. He
reiterated that he thought the rules were "a solution in search of a

Asked whether it as fair that the regulations apply to ISPs
but not Web companies cable competes with, McSlarrow said it was better to have
"a light regulatory touch for everyone in the Internet ecosystem, than a
heavy and counterproductive regulatory regime on part or all of the Internet

House Republicans, led by Energy & Commerce Committee
chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Communications Subcommittee Chairman Greg
Walden (R-Ore.), have been unequivocal in their opposition to the regulations
as unnecessary, an end-run around congressional authority and a threat to jobs
and investment. This week they plan to vote in the subcommittee on a resolution
to invalidate the rules.

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.