Rep. Doyle Expects Comcast-NBCU Deal To Go Through

Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) says he thinks the Comcast-NBC Universal deal will be approved.

In an interview for C-SPAN's Communicators series, Doyle pointed to deals Comcast struck with affiliates this week as bringing the joint venture "one step closer." But he suggested the next negotiations will include small cable
operators, who have registered concerns about the deal's impact.

"I think there are still some other negotiations that are going to take place between small cable and other
stakeholders, and I think eventually it will be approved. I think that will be a good thing once all the safeguards
are put in place."

"The American Cable Association believes that the Comcast/NBCU merger will hurt consumers and competition without appropriate conditions," said Ted Hearn, VP of communications for ACA. The association, which represents some 900 small and midsized cable operators/telecom companies, has met with Comcast about the deal. (Both Comcast and the ACA are based in Doyle's home state.)

During the interview, Doyle talked mostly about the FCC's reclassification of Title II--the topic of the interview. He said he didn't think there would be enough time for Congress to clarify the FCC's broadband authority this year, and that the FCC needed to go ahead and do it itself.

"I fear the clock is running out on us this year," he said, "which is why we think it is important in that vacuum that the FCC has to take some action." He also said he was one of those who believed the FCC already has the flexibility under the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to reclassify without any assistance from Congress.

Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) took the other side of the Title II debate. He said it was a way for the FCC to move on its net neutrality agenda, an agenda being pushed by "major interests on the West Coast that help support the
Democratic party, and so that is why they are moving on this agenda."

When asked to identify those political interests, Shimkus replied, "You know who they are. Our friends at Google are one of the major focuses, and they have their interests. And I support the rights of people to collectively organize to air their grievances and get the government changes, so I am not disputing their right to do that. They have supporters and allies and that is what this is about."

Shimkus said he didn't want the FCC "promulgating rules that might be subverting the current law of the land."
He added that he didn't think FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski had the regulatory authority to establish his "third way" proposal through the regulatory regime, and that it would be usurping congressional authority.

"Our point is, if we want to do that, it should be through the legislative process," Shimkus said. "They are to enact and enforce the law, and if the law is outdated, we don't manipulate the process through the regulatory regime to create new rules and regulations that, as the courts have ruled already in this debate, subverts the law of the land."

He said the FCC should give its input on a legislative rewrite that "maybe we all can agree [on]." But the FCC continues to move on its "third way" proposal, with early fall targeted for some kind of decision according to a couple of commissioners.

Said Shimkus, "They are usurping our authority through the regulatory regime."

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.