Government should let Web regulate itself
Published: Wednesday, June 14th, 2006
The cost of cable TV could get cheaper if a bill that passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday becomes law. HR5252 would allow phone companies, such as Verizon, “to get television franchises by applying to the Federal Communications Commission rather than by negotiating them one by one with thousands of municipalities,” reported the Washington Post. The phone companies then would compete directly with cable TV companies, such as Time Warner Cable, producing lower costs and better service for consumers. Most significantly, a so-called “net neutrality” amendment to the bill was defeated. “Net neutrality” would have given the FCC power to regulate extra charges that the phone and cable companies might charge content providers for faster service. The phone and cable companies say the charges would pay for the investment in faster telecommunications lines. Backed by such content giants as Google, eBay and Yahoo, “net neutrality” is an interference in what should be a purely market decision. The bill overall “looks good,” Peter Suderman, an analyst with the free-market Competitive Enterprise Institute, said. But he anticipates “some other possible problems. Once it gets to the Senate, we could still see net neutrality put in.” He said another change is being advocated by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., which would mandate that bundles of cable offerings — including several channels at a lower price than single ones added up — must allow consumers to break out a single channel for purchase. But, creation of the product offering should be up to the business, not the government. We urge the U.S. Senate to leave HR5252 substantially unchanged, especially on net neutrality and bundling services, and to pass it. Bottom line: The Internet should be free to grow, with minimal regulatory and tax interference.
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