Darrell Issa provides TV with reason to support net neutrality


Darrell Issa (R-CA) held a San Jose CA field event under the auspices of the House Oversight Committee, which he chairs, generally to make the point that government regulation is stifling innovation and growth in the tech sector. But he also made a remark that may generate newfound support among television broadcasters for FCC network neutrality regulation.

Issa’s hearing in Silicon Valley territory provided a platform for him to express his deregulatory sentiments, tailored to the high tech community that is centered in the San Jose area.

His major point is that Washington’s red tape is putting US firms at a competitive disadvantage that foreign tech companies are able to use to their own advantage.

So why should television broadcasters support the FCC on network neutrality?

According to reports, after the hearing was over, Issa tied granting the FCC permission to conduct spectrum auctions in order to reclaim bandwidth from television licensees for mobile broadband repurposing to scrapping its network neutrality regimen. In short, Issa said unless the FCC gets rid of net neutrality, he doubted that Congress would give it additional authority of any kind for any reason.

RBR-TVBR observation: This is an excellent example of why it is hard to get anything major and/or complicated done on Capitol Hill. There are so many conflicting agendas and buried motivations that untangling them all to get to a vote is often a nightmare. And then the courts weigh in.

However, we’d be hard pressed to believe that the spectrum issue is ultimately going to hinge on the net neutrality issue, no matter what members of Congress think about one or the other.

Issa is essentially saying that if the FCC doesn’t get rid of its apples, Congress won’t let it have any oranges. The two issues are separate, and interestingly enough, if the Issa scenario were to play out – the FCC keeps its neutrality regs and then Congress denies auction authority, tech companies would be two-time losers, with unwanted regulation in place and bandwidth denied.