Wheeler: Title II Still Squarely on Table

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler continued to maintain that a Title II approach remains squarely on the table.

That came in testimony at a House Small Business Committee hearing on the impact of network neutrality on those small businesses.

Wheeler told his House audience that blocking and degrading would interfere with the virtuous cycle of innovation and investment, but he said the question is whether to use Sec. 706 authority or Title II.

But Wheeler also said that the key in finding a legally sustainable way to restore Open Internet rules was to insure an open Internet for small businesses and consumers, while not disincentivizing the billions in infrastructure investment communications companies have been making.

Rep. Janice Hahn (D-Calif.), whose delegation had urged Wheeler to get involved in the Dodgers carriage impasse, thanked Wheeler for his help, in the short term, in getting the last six home games carried on a TV station, which she called a "small breakthrough." But she said as a long-term issue, it hurts the small businesses, restaurants and bars that draw customers with the games. 

Wheeler said he agreed. He wrote TWC and the MVPD's and asked them to come together, he said, but the MVPD's, DirecTV and cable operators had told him they did not want to have to overpay for Dodgers games that analysts suggested TWC had overpaid for the exclusive rights to.

He said he continued to investigate the impasse because he wants to know more about what happened and the "suffering" of consumers. Wheeler told B&C/Multi last week that the FCC is seeking more information from TWC.

Wheeler took some shots at broadcasters' pushback on the FCC's vote to limit joint sales agreements.

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.