US FCC to launch 'comprehensive review' of media regulations

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai   Getty  Chip Somodevilla

Pai, who vehemently opposes FCC's approach to net neutrality, earlier made it clear that even though he supports a set of net neutrality principles, he is against the 2015 Open Internet Order. And it could pave the way for the FCC to reverse a key decision, undertaken in 2015, to regulate Internet providers like legacy telephone companies.

"Broadcasting, and broadcasters, will not be a speed bump" for the Commission under his Chairmanship, PAI said, pointing to his making TV's "next-gen" ATSC 3.0 a priority.

The 2015 rules prohibit broadband internet service providers from blocking access to lawful content and giving or selling access to speedy internet, basically a "fast lane", to certain internet services over others. Democrats and privacy advocates have said net neutrality is crucial to keeping the internet open. It propagates and promotes that FCC should police the broadband provider actions using the utility-style regulation.

To initiate the process, he will start by taking public comment and might have the initial voting on his proposal on May 18th FCC meeting. And he has floated the idea privately to various companies and groups that could be affected by that change in policy. Pai said the ownership review would be a "much more fact-based discussion" than prior reviews, adding it was "critical" for media ownership rules "to match the modern marketplace".

The FCC declined to comment for this story.

Pai told Reuters last Thursday he had been meeting with Internet companies and trade groups to discuss safeguarding an open Internet. John Oliver also dedicated a show segment to the topic, which raised awareness of an otherwise jargon-y, abstract issue. Every indication is that Chairman Pai is on the verge of announcing the details of his plan to gut net neutrality, an assault which would be the capstone of an agenda riddled with industry giveaways at the expense of consumers, competition, and small business.

Evan Greer, campaign director at the online rights group Fight for the Future, has been a strong proponent of the Obama FCC's net neutrality rules. In simple words, internet service providers such as Comcast, AT&T, Charter, and Verizon are not allowed to slow down or block internet traffic.

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