Womble Carlyle attorneys Mark Palchick and Rebecca Jacobs filed comments on behalf of Massillon Cable TV, Inc. (“MCTV”) this week in the Federal Communications Commission’s Restoring Internet Freedom proceeding advocating its support for the Commission’s decision to revisit the need for the bright-line rules established under the "Title II Order," which failed to recognize the realities of the broadband marketplace and imposed undue and unequal regulatory and financial burdens on broadband Internet access providers.
Under the current rules, broadband providers, such as MCTV, face specific restrictions imposed under the "Title II Order," which reclassified broadband Internet access services as a Title II common carrier service and imposed one-sided regulations on fixed and mobile Internet access service providers, including banning practices involving blocking, throttling and paid prioritization. However, the same restrictions do not apply to so-called “Edge Providers,” such as Netflix and Amazon. While MCTV supports removing the restrictions altogether, should the FCC impose restrictions on broadband providers, MCTV believes they should likewise apply to Edge Providers.
According to the filed comments, while there have been no reported cases of broadband Internet access providers blocking customers from accessing Edge Provider sites, the same cannot be said of Edge Providers. On the contrary, there have been multiple reported cases of Edge Providers exercising their market power to block access to broadband customers of targeted broadband Internet access providers, including MCTV, in order to gain leverage in marketplace negotiations. Such discriminatory and retaliatory practices against broadband Internet access service providers by Edge Providers remain unregulated by the FCC.
The bottom line for MCTV is that all consumers should have access to all legal content via all lawful devices through the ISP of their choice. That means broadband Internet access providers and Edge Providers should be treated in a balanced manner by the FCC.
Click here to read MCTV’s full statement filed with the FCC.
Mark Palchick has been an attorney in the communications field since 1975. He is experienced in matters relating to the domestic and international cable industry, international copyright, negotiations of program affiliation agreements, E-rate funding, pole attachment matters, interconnection agreements between private carriers and other FCC regulatory matters. In 2013 he was honored by the Cable Television Industry and inducted into the Cable Pioneers.
Rebecca Jacobs has a comprehensive communications law practice, guiding clients in media law, Internet, telecom, cable and privacy/data protection matters. She counsels communications industry clients in negotiating contracts and complex business transactions, as well as helping them resolve disputes and regulatory challenges.