Editorial: The FCC Is Coming! - Broadcasting & Cable

Editorial: The FCC Is Coming!

The cable industry has faced a challenging year with FCC
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The cable industry has faced a challenging 12 months since it last gathered for its annual convention.

Under his standard of “Competition, Competition, Competition,” FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has trained his sites on ISPs with a laser-like focus, while steering clear of edge providers.

He insists it’s because the FCC’s authority does not extend to them. But it’s hard to buy the argument that the FCC is trying to protect web surfers from anything that might interfere with the virtuous circle of content, through networks, to web users without at least using the bully pulpit to warn about the tracking and monetizing of data that’s the stock-in-trade of major edge players.

National Cable & Telecommunications Association president Michael Powell says the FCC has been “awfully aggressive and creative with its jurisdiction when it wants to be.” We agree.

The commission is proposing to regulate the prices of cable broadband business service for the first time; it wants to require web users to opt in to the marketing of their information by third parties, but only for ISPs; it wants MVPDs to make their set-top data and content available to edge providers; and it has preempted state regulations on municipal broadband.

Then there are the Charter/Time Warner Cable deal conditions that essentially signaled Wheeler thinks usage-based pricing and data caps are a de facto threat to online video competition.

Of all those FCC initiatives, the set-top box proposal stands out for the bipartisan length and breadth of the opposition. That is definitely one the chairman should rethink and retool.

Cable broadband operators can be forgiven for feeling the FCC is piling on. They are lucky to have a strong champion in Powell, who makes a good case for a more balanced approach to protecting the virtuous circle.

The cable industry has faced a challenging 12 months since it last gathered for its annual convention.

Under his standard of “Competition, Competition, Competition,” FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has trained his sites on ISPs with a laser-like focus, while steering clear of edge providers.

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