Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 2, 2014

Michael Powell Talks ‘Fast Lanes,’ Cord-Cutting, Aereo on C-SPAN

michael powell cspan 445x219 Michael Powell Talks Fast Lanes, Cord Cutting, Aereo on C SPAN

National Cable and Telecommunications Association President and CEO Michael Powell talked about cord-cutting, the FCC’s net neutrality proposal and the Aereo case before the Supreme Court in a recent interview on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators” with host Peter Slen and the Wall Street Journal’s Gautham Nagesh. In case you haven’t watched it yet, here’s some of what he said on “fast lanes,” Title II and more.

The former FCC chairman said the cable industry isn’t looking to create Internet “fast lanes” (it’s a matter that’s drawn fierce criticism as the FCC has moved forward on re-writing net neutrality rules):

I don’t think we even know what a fast lane is and I don’t think anybody’s contemplating doing one. I think this issue’s really blown beyond the proportions of our actual incentives and interests. You know, for 16 years there has not been a net neutrality rule and our broadband businesses have grown substantially and not one ISP has ever endeavored to do you know even a quarter of the things that are hypothesized when we had every legal right and every opportunity to do. And that’s because I don’t think it makes that much sense.

“I just don’t think it makes economic sense or logical sense. And I think we would be crazy if we did some of the things that I think people are suggesting.”

On designating broadband as a utility:

“Which is like reaching for a sledgehammer and a chainsaw and a bulldozer to tackle one rule. Not even one rule –one piece of one rule. “

“That’s about the only thing we’re in the mood to really be fighting over. Because I think that would be a radically disastrous step for the country.”

He said reclassification would hurt consumers and Internet companies more than they understand:

“I also think it would hurt web companies more than they understand. Because Title II reaches very far and wide. And I can easily conceptualize a whole range of services that web innovators are involved in that could suddenly find themselves tangled up in that regime.”

In addition to charging consumers Universal Service fees and taking the Federal Trade Commission out of the picture, he said reclassification would mean less broadband investment because money would instead go toward higher regulatory compliance costs:

“But the cost would unquestionably rise for regulatory compliance.”

“So if you like your Internet speed today, sadly you might have to get used to it because I think the investment needed to grow it will shrink.”

Reclassification could take a decade to resolve the issue, he estimated:

“The court cases, the jurisdictional reordering of things, the questions that would come up. I think it would take this country and set it back in the information age.”

He said businesses like Aereo are the “shape of more to come”:

“If it isn’t Aereo it’s gonna be something else.”

“These are powerful signals that are flying across the air, open and unencrypted, arguably for a public purpose and I think technology will be constantly trying to hack and figure out how to capture that content delivered to consumers.”

On cord-cutting, he said “over-the-top” and cable content are more “mutually dependent” than people recognize:

“You’re not gonna binge watch Breaking Bad if the $4.8 million an episode it cost to make it hadn’t been recovered on the cable platform in the first place.”

  • txlakedude

    Michael Powell, is an enemy of free speech. His action, to allow the merger of medias across the long established boundaries to protect free speech, has been devastating. He needs to be eliminated from all processes. He operates, not in the best interests of this country, but of his masters of industry.

  • http://www.thestreamingadvisor.com/ The Streaming Advisor

    How would classifying the internet as a utility be a “radically disastrous step for the country.” we seem to have made it through electricity and phone lines having that designation.

  • Cam

    Although participation in democratic processes is often confused with liberty, it is not true that those too young to vote lack liberty.

  • http://www.thestreamingadvisor.com/ The Streaming Advisor

    People are happy with their internet speeds.What we don’t like is these speed increases followed by 20 dollar monthly bill increases.

  • DaveK

    I don’t think we even know what a fast lane is and I don’t think
    anybody’s contemplating doing one. I think this issue’s really blown
    beyond the proportions of our actual incentives and interests. You know,
    for 16 years there has not been a net neutrality rule and our broadband
    businesses have grown substantially and not one ISP has ever endeavored
    to do you know even a quarter of the things that are hypothesized when
    we had every legal right and every opportunity to do. And that’s because
    I don’t think it makes that much sense.

    Don’t know what a FAST lane is? Comcast is already on record saying that even if Title II is invoked, they would still have the “authority” to create a FAST lane.

    “I also think it would hurt web companies more than they understand.
    Because Title II reaches very far and wide. And I can easily conceptualize a whole range of services that web innovators are involved in that could suddenly find themselves tangled up in that regime.”

    The Supreme court has already spelled out that the “pipes” that deliver content are *separate* from the content itself. Mr. Powell is simply trying scare tactics! It’s what he gets PAID to do!

    “So if you like your Internet speed today, sadly you might have to get used to it because I think the investment needed to grow it will shrink.”

    Then I think the government should IMMEDIATELY RETRACT the BILLIONS in tax breaks and tax incentives granted to these companies designated to EXPAND their networks rather than to be used to LINE THEIR POCKETS!

    “The court cases, the jurisdictional reordering of things, the questions that would come up. I think it would take this country and set it back in the information age.”

    It’s silly to think that NOT invoking Title II would be painless and there would be ZERO “reordering of things” as Mr. Powell has suggested. The truth of the matter is regardless of the path taken, the FCC will be sued anyway. Comcast sued the FCC against Net Neutrality rules when they were BLOCKING Bit Torrent traffic – and they won! Verizon then sued the FCC saying that Net Neutrality rules did NOT apply to Verizon – and they also won earlier this year. That’s how we got to where we are today. No matter what road the FCC takes, these companies WILL SUE to try and invalidate these rules that they DO NOT LIKE. Title II provides the STRONG legal foundation upon which the FCC would better be able to defend Net Neutrality against the onslaught from the phone and cable companies that want to create a TIERED Internet which will cost you more money!

    Folks, listen – Title II classification is NEEDED to keep your money in your pocket. If these phone and cable companies can’t make a buck using the existing tax incentives and tax breaks given the industry, maybe they should just exit the business.

    Contact the FCC and submit a comment (https://www.fcc.gov/comments – docket #14-28). This is a good suggestion for comments:

    NO PAID PRIORITIZATION. We needed STRONG Net Neutrality rules backed by a strong legal foundation. We MUST reclassify the phone and cable
    providers as the “common carriers” that they are by invoking Title II of the telecommunications Act.

    I would also suggest that you contact ALL your elected officials and DEMAND the same thing as above. Let them know your position.

  • http://neponyne.wordpress.com/about neppie

    Michael Powell’s argument that “Breaking Bad” could not exist without cable is reaching. First of all, AMC generated revenue with commercials which could exist on any platform. Secondly, Netflix and similar can develop quality content without even catering to advertisers.

    Another blow for cord-cutters today. C-SPAN is no longer available to stream without a cable subscription. Even though I rely on Comcast for internet connectivity, must subscribe to a “TV Tier” for C-SPAN. If they offered one without a silly converter box, I might even consider it.

Sign In

Forgot password?

Or

Subscribe

Receive daily coverage of the people, politics and personality of Capitol Hill.

Subscription | Free Trial

Logging you in. One moment, please...