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Mandating Cable Access for Multiple Internet Service Providers is Unnecessary, Infringes on First Amendment, Media Institute Says in Comments to FCC

FOR RELEASE: June 12, 2002

Contact: Richard T. Kaplar
The Media Institute
703-243-5700

 

Washington, June 12, 2002 - Mandating multiple Internet service provider (ISP) access for cable is unnecessary and raises First Amendment questions, The Media Institute said in comments filed today with the Federal Communications Commission.

The Institute filed the comments in response to an FCC Declaratory Ruling and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking concerning cable facilities providing broadband access to the Internet, and the authority of the FCC to regulate such access.

"We conclude that mandated multiple ISP access for cable is neither necessary from a practical standpoint, nor appropriate from a constitutional standpoint," the Institute said.

The existence of other platforms for Internet access - and the ability of cable broadband subscribers to access virtually all Internet content (including other ISPs) through their cable ISP - remove any need to impose "must-carry" regulation for ISPs, the Institute said.

Because broadband technology affects the type and quality of content reaching subscribers, and because a cable operator's choice of ISP has content implications, a regulation mandating access would be subject to strict scrutiny under the First Amendment, the Institute said. Such a regulation would fail to withstand strict or intermediate scrutiny, since mandated ISP access would not correct any real "harm" to consumers.

The Institute also said that the FCC has acknowledged its authority in regulating these matters would be "ancillary," and, given that, urged the Commission to use restraint in exercising its authority.