Stakeholders React to FCC Pre-emption Vote

The Federal Communications Commission's Title II vote was generating most of the headlines Thursday (Feb. 26), but another vote at the same meeting was also drawing plenty of comment from stakeholders: The similarly partisan 3-2 vote by the Democratic majority to pre-empt state laws in Tennessee and North Carolina that limited municipal broadband build-outs.  

In that vote, the FCC signaled that it could not pre-empt laws preventing such build-outs, but that if a state had authorized a city to build out broadband, the state could not limit its expansion beyond the city limits to other neighborhoods.  

The FCC made clear its decision was limited to the petitions by Chattanooga, Tenn., and Wilson, N.C., asking the FCC to pre-empt, but the vote signaled what the FCC might do in similar circumstances if asked by other cities in other states. 

There was plenty of praise and criticism to go around.  

"Today, the Federal Communications Commission sided with community-based solutions," the Benton Foundation said in a statement. "Today, the FCC sided with choice. Today, the FCC sided with bringing better broadband everywhere. The FCC’s vote will have direct, concrete meaning in the lives of Americans who have been unable to access the economic, health care, and educational benefits of fiber-based, broadband networks."

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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.