Last updated: February 21, 2008 - 1:56am
STEVENS INTRODUCES COMPREHENSIVE TELECOM REFORM BILL
[SOURCE: US Senate Commerce Committee press release]
On Monday, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) introduced S.2686, the Communications, Consumer's Choice, and Broadband Deployment Act of 2006. The legislation, which consists of 10 separate titles, aims to reform existing communications laws to promote competition, cost savings for consumers, and the speedy deployment of broadband services to all Americans. Co-Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) co-sponsored the bill. The Committee will take up the bill during a two-step process. First, the Committee will hold two public hearings to consider the bill. Following this period of review, the Committee will hold an Executive Session after the Memorial Day recess to markup the legislation. Hearing dates and the Committee markup of the bill are to be determined. Broadcasting&Cable reports that Sen Inouye apparently doesn't like the bill that much. â€œToday, I have agreed to co-sponsor telecommunications legislation introduced by Senator Stevens," he said in a statement. "I do so in a spirit of bipartisanship, because I believe that bipartisanship will be required if we are to successfully update our nationâ€™s communications laws. My co-sponsorship, however, is not a demonstration of support for the bill itself. This is the draft of the Majority Staff, and I have numerous, substantive objections to the bill in its current form. Given that my colleagues and I have not yet had an opportunity to weigh in on this critical legislation, I consider its introduction the very beginning of the legislative process. " Sen Inouye feels the network neutrality language in the Senate bill does not go far enough in protecting the Internet from discrimination in service provision by networks, the same criticism leveled by Democrats at the House bill, though that one passed with strong Democrat support anyway.
* Text of bill: http://commerce.senate.gov/pdf/06telcom.pdf
* Title by Title summary: http://commerce.senate.gov/pdf/Telecom%20bill%20title%20by%20title.pdf
* Sen Stevens' statement: http://commerce.senate.gov/pdf/floorstatement.pdf
* Benton will track the bill's progress at: http://www.benton.org/index.php?q=node/2173
SENATE REPUBLICANS DRAFT HUGE TELECOM BILL
[SOURCE: Broadcasting&Cable, AUTHOR: John Eggerton]
Key provisions include making cable pay into the Universal Service Fund for high-speed Internet service; allowing unlicensed devices to operate in the broadcast band; mandating nondiscriminatory access to sports programming; and reinstating the FCC's audio and video flag rules, with caveats to take care of fair use distribution. Those include carve-outs for "timely: news and public affairs and distance learning. The bill includes a number of DTV-related issues that could not be included in a DTV hard date bill due to Senate rules. They include requiring labels on TV sets that can't receive a digital signal and allowing cable operators to convert a digital signal to analog for customers who don't have digital sets. The bill also directs the FCC to develop rules requiring video service providers to "prevent the distribution of child porn." Last, but not least, it would allow fewer than the full complement of sitting FCC commissioners to talk among themselves so long as there was at least one member of the minority party present. Currently, FCC commissioners can't meet in smaller groups.
* USTelecom Statement:
Senators Stevens and Inouye have crafted legislation that will bring real video choice, put consumers in charge of the dynamic communications market and address the future of the nation's universal service system. The bill's introduction today is a significant step toward meaningful reform and we look forward to working with both the Senate and House to enact legislation this year."
STEVENS BOWS SWEEPING TELECOM BILL
[SOURCE: Multichannel News, AUTHOR: Ted Hearn]
Unlike the House bill, the Stevens legislation doesn't establish a national video franchise, although it would set a 30-day deadline for local governments to decide on an application by a phone or cable company to offer local video service. AT&T -- which, along with Verizon, has been urging Congress to eliminate local franchising -- praised the Stevens bill but did not endorse it, probably because the measure did not allow new cable entrants to bypass the local approval process and avoid explicit buildout requirements. In a little-noticed provision, the Stevens bill would eliminate cable-rate regulation. Currently, local governments cap the basic-cable rates of cable operators that do not face effective competition, which generally means that EchoStar Communications Corp. and DirecTV Inc. have less than 15% penetration or a phone company has not entered the market to offer pay TV.
* Phone Firms' Bid To Ease Cable Push Hits Senate Snag
Bill on Video Franchises Introduced
[SOURCE: Washington Post, AUTHOR: Arshad Mohammed]
Regulatory analysts said they thought there was a less than 50-50 chance of telecom legislation becoming law this year because of the range of issues addressed by the Senate bill, the potential difficulty of reconciling it with the narrower House version passed last week and the short legislative calendar ahead of the November midterm elections. Paul L. Glenchur, who tracks telecom regulatory developments for the Stanford Washington Research Group, said it will be tough to get a law enacted this year. "There are plenty of things working against it, but I think people dismiss the notion that this could actually pass at their peril," he said.
* Net neutrality missing from telecom bill
* Stevens Unveils Telco Bill, Inouye Has Concerns
[SOURCE: CongressDaily, AUTHOR: David Hatch]
* Some Thoughts on the New Senate Telecom Reform Draft
* Stevens Bill Analysis Part I â€” The Good Parts
- Telecom act rewrite targets rural America
- McSlarrow Likely to Testify on Stevens Bill
- Stevens Eases Pace on Franchising Bill
- Today's Quote
- Senate Commerce Sticking With Big Bill
- Universal Service Bill Moving
- Stevens Seeks To Push Telecom Bill Before Easter
- Two-Dozen FCC Actions in Stevens Bill
- TIA Backs Telecom Reform Legislation's Framework
- S.2686 the Communications, Consumer's Choice, and Broadband Deployment Act of 2006
- Senate Commerce Committee to Revisit Net Neutrality Proposal
- Senate Panel Rallying Troops In Support Of Telecom Bill
- Analysis of the Communications, Consumer's Choice, and Broadband Deployment Act of 2006
- Inouye Telecom Agenda
- Barton sees Murky Future for Telco Bill