Ed Markey, who will head the House Telecommunications Subcommittee when the new Congress convenes Jan. 4, says he plans to review the FCC’s decision Wednesday to ease telcos’ entry into video franchising.
Calling the decision "a lump of coal for many communities around the country," Markey said he "looked forward to reviewing today’s decision and examining its implications for consumers, communities, and competition next year."
Congress failed to pass a video franchise reform bill in the last Congress, although a version did pass the House over Markey’s objections after a compromise version he supported fell apart. ultimately, the debate over the network neutrality issue killed any chance for passage of the bill.
"Today’s decision comes on the heels of a year-long legislative battle in Congress on the same set of franchising-related subjects," Markey said in a statement.
"I fully support providing consumers with additional marketplace choices for cable service but I believe competition must be promoted in a way that also respects the important values of localism and universal service.
"Although Congress failed to enact any of the franchising-related proposals sought by the Bell telephone utilities into law this year, I am concerned that the FCC has acted today at the behest of the same utilities to adopt similar policies."
Democratic Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein raised the same issue in his angry dissent.
"Overall, I believe the haste with which the commission has acted may lead to problematic and unintended consequences," said Markey.
"In some instances," he said, "the commission may be acting without clear legal authority and in others, by promulgating rules without a consistent, balanced policy for all marketplace participants.
"Finally, efforts in communities across the country to bolster localism through public access channels and to utilize institutional networks for important municipal functions may be put in jeopardy by novel interpretations of the Cable Act which undermine the financial basis for such services."