A key House Democrat urged the Federal Communications Commission on Friday to abandon its plan to regulate certain online TV services the same way it regulates cable companies.
While the FCC is used to criticism from Republicans, the opposition from Rep. Frank Pallone, the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is an unusual and significant blow to the commission’s proposal. Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft have previously criticized the plan in filings with the FCC.
“We should hit the pause button on regulating streaming video,” Pallone said at an event in Washington, D.C. hosted by Duke University School of Law. “When it comes to adopting new policies, we all must ask ourselves whether new polices actually make people better off. In the case of defining online video providers as cable companies, I do not think we can say yes. Until we all better understand the ultimate impact on consumers, the FCC should avoid adopting sweeping new regulations.”
An FCC official declined to respond to Pallone’s speech but said the issue is still a priority to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. The purpose of the proposal is to help streaming-video services compete on a level playing field with traditional cable TV bundles, but the FCC is facing growing concerns that it could unintentionally stifle the very companies it is trying to help.