Net Neutrality: Looking Like Feb., March For FCC Rules

The FCC circulated its agenda for the Dec. 11 meeting and there is no vote on a new Open Internet order on the list.

That is not a big surprise. Top aide to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler Gigi Sohn had signaled December was unlikely and FCC staffers have reportedly said they need more time to vet the legal implications of various proposals, particularly involving Title II reclassification. But according to sources inside and outside the FCC, January is probably equally a stretch, with most looking at March as the most likely month for a vote on the new rules.

Also not on the agenda is a vote on the Media Bureau proposal to reclassify some over-the-top video providers as MVPD's, at least to the degree that they would have program access rights to vertically integrated cable programming and to negotiate for TV station signal carriage.

Some Washington watchers had been looking for that item, but an FCC source said it would likely remain off the meeting agenda. It has already been circulated for a vote by the other commissioners.

The agenda does include the expected item on raising the contributions to E-rate by $1.5 billion, a vote on a public notice seeking comment on details of the broadcaster incentive auction, and an order finalizing the move to the next phase of the Connect America Fund migration of Universal Service Fund phone subsidies to broadband.

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.