Reps. Upton & Walden To Push For Revamped Communications Act
December 4, 2013
Yesterday, Reps. Fred Upton (R-MI) and Greg Walden (R-OR) announced their intention to reform the Communications Act of 1996, saying the law is in need of an update due to changing technology. Upton is is Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, while Walden is Chairman of the Communications Subcommittee.
In a statement, Walden said, "When the Communications Act was updated almost 18 years ago, no one could have dreamed of the many innovations and advancements that make the Internet what it is today. Written during the Great Depression and last updated when 56 kilobits per second via dial-up modem was state of the art, the Communications Act is now painfully out of date." Upton and Walden made the announcement via a Google Hangout on Tuesday, but did not go into any specifics about what changes could be made.
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai weighed in on the matter, saying in a statement, "I welcome the announcement by Chairman Fred Upton and Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden that the Energy and Commerce Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives will examine how to modernize the Communications Act to reflect the realities of a 21st century marketplace. 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. In a converged industry, it does not make sense to apply different rules to providers and technologies that compete in the same markets. Convergence is now the norm, and consumers, companies, and the Commission would be better off if our laws and regulations recognized as much. As the Committee moves forward with its work, I stand ready and able to assist in whatever way I can."
NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith also released a statement, saying, "NAB salutes the vision of Chairmen Upton and Walden in proposing a holistic review of U.S. telecommunications policy. 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. We look forward to working with Chairmen Upton and Walden and other members of the Energy & Commerce committee as they consider telecom legislation that sustains a robust future for local broadcasting."