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Communications Law Review Welcomed

Experts say it makes no sense to treat different forms of communications separately in age of convergence

Several organizations and regulators welcomed the news of the House lawmakers’ plans to update the Communications Act.

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai said, “Some provisions of the act have yellowed with age, unchanged, since the Great Depression; even those of more recent vintage predate the transformative impacts of the Internet, competition and innovation.”

He notes the act still treats different forms of communications separately, like silos, which “doesn’t make sense” in a converged industry. “Convergence is now the norm, and consumers, companies, and the commission would be better off if our laws and regulations recognized as much.”

NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith called the proposal a “holistic review,” and said, “There can be little doubt that in this multichannel, multiplatform communications world, local broadcasting remains the essential and indispensable programming source in every American community.” NAB is ready to work with the committee as lawmakers consider telecom legislation “that sustains a robust future for local broadcasting,” he said.

The Free State Foundation, a think tank, also praised the review. “The current ‘stovepipe’ regime, which regulates comparable services differently based on techno-functional constructs, needs to be replaced by a technology-neutral regime so that competitive services are not treated differently,” said FSF President Randolph May. “Just as importantly, a new act should require that the commission’s regulatory activity be tied explicitly to whether a market failure exists and whether demonstrable consumer harm is proven, not to vague, subjective, malleable notions of the ‘public interest.’”