Skip to main content

Net Neutrality Riders Don't Make Budget Package

According to someone following the budget bill as well as a check of the FCC-related section of the 2,000-plus page opus, the riders that would have blocked or limited the FCC's implementation of network neutrality rules did not make it onto the compromise bill hammered out late Tuesday (Dec. 15).

That is no big surprise since the Obama Administration said that ideological riders could lead to a veto of the bill and the President was a vocal supporter, some would say a motivating force as well, of the FCC's decision to reclassify ISPs under Title II common carrier regulations. Cable operators were not expecting them to survive the negotiations.

One rider would have defunded implementation until the legal challenges to the FCC's new Open Internet order were resolved, which could take many months or even years. The other would have made clear for future FCCs what Tom Wheeler has said was the case for his—that reclassification was not about imposing rate regulations.

Free Press was taking some credit for the riders' excision.

"Thousands of Net Neutrality supporters called their members of Congress to say that this must-pass spending bill should not mess with the rights of Internet users," said Free Press Action Fund Policy Director Matt Wood. "As has been the case so many times in the past year, people’s voices can still make a difference in Washington, especially when the open Internet is at stake."

There has been talk on the Hill about a bill that would clarify the FCC's authority to prevent blocking, degrading and anticompetitive paid prioritization but without the big stick of Title II, but that is a long shot.

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.