More CommComm commentary on neutrality


The Senate Commerce Committee contains both supporters and opponents of network neutrality, at least as broadly and generally defined. Three members weighed in on the FCC’s netneut kick-off, promising legislation if necessary. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) are watching from the pro side, Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) from the anti.

Dorgan and Snowe introduced pro-netneut legislation in the last Congress. It didn’t go anywhere, but they said they are pleased to see the FCC head down that road without need of a congressional push. They promised to introduce legislation if necessary to help the process along.

“Network neutrality protects the fundamental rights of Americans in using the Internet and accessing content, applications, and services of their choice. A well-reasoned network neutrality policy also ensures a level playing field for companies large and small as they create an online presence, and will continue to foster the entrepreneurial innovation found not only in corporate office suites, but in college dorms across the country,” they said in a joint statement.

Hutchison hasn’t been shy about criticizing the netneut concept, and said she’s discussed the matter with FCC Chair Julius Genachowski.

“I will be closely reviewing the text of the recent FCC decision, as well as the comment period that follows,” she said. “I had strong concerns with the original proposal which I shared with Chairman Genachowski. Chairman Genachowski has assured me that he understands my concerns, particularly as they relate to the investment incentives and decisions of small rural communications providers. These small providers are a critical part of improving broadband access for rural areas across the country.”

She also promised legislation if necessary.

RBR-TVBR observation: By the time the FCC takes this to the point where congressional intervention may be seen as a necessary option by either side, we suspect Hutchison will be long gone, either running for governor in Texas, sitting as the governor of Texas or looking for a job in the private sector.

However, opponents of netneut need not fret over the fact that Hutchison may be out of the battle by the time her talents are required. There are many other members of the Senate who are in agreement with her, including John McCain (R-AZ), who in fact is not waiting around and is already offering legislative remedies.