[business week] Democrats in the U.S. House and Senate said they will consider proposals starting next month to update the law that regulates telephone, cable and broadcast companies.
The lawmakers will begin “a process to develop proposals” to revise the 1934 telecommunications act, which was last rewritten in 1996, they said today in an e-mailed statement. Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, chairman of the Commerce Committee, and Representative Henry Waxman, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, are among those involved in the process, according to the statement.
A U.S. court in April said the Federal Communications Commission lacks power over Comcast Corp.’s Web practices, sparking debate over the agency’s power to regulate Internet service providers.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski on May 6 asserted authority under a part of the act written for telephone networks. Republican lawmakers said he improperly sought to expand regulation.
Today, 74 House Democrats in a letter told Genachowski they have “serious concerns” about his proposed regulatory framework and urged him to await “additional direction from Congress.”
Jen Howard, an FCC spokeswoman, in an e-mail declined to comment on the statement from Rockefeller and Waxman, who represents a California district.
Genachowski in a blog posting in May said the agency was ready to advise Congress if its “leaders decide to take up legislation” to “clarify the statute and the agency’s authority regarding broadband.”
The telecommunications act covers a broad swath, Art Brodsky, spokesman for Washington-based advocacy group Public Knowledge, said in an interview.
“When you update the telecoms act, that’s a big thing,” Brodsky said. “We still think the FCC has the authority to proceed as they proposed.”
U.S. Congress to Consider Updating Communications Law