Conservatives have kept a close eye on Julius Genachowski, chair of the FCC, especially after his first attempt to regulate the Internet by regulatory decree got slapped down by Congress. Now it looks like the chastened Genachowski has lost the Left, too. His scaled-down “Open Internet” proposal had no chance of winning support from the conservatives on the FCC board, and his Net Neutrality allies are urging the Democrats on the panel to oppose it as well:
Opposition to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski’s open Internet proposal is building on both the left and the right ahead of a potential vote on the proposal at the Commission’s December 21 open meeting.
A group of net neutrality advocates declared their opposition to the plan during a meeting with Democratic FCC Commissioner Michael Copps on Thursday.
A number of prominent individuals and organizations including representatives from Consumers Union, Free Press, Netflix, Amazon.com and Dish Network were at the meeting, which was described in an ex parte filing released Monday. Genachowski needs Copps’ vote for the proposal to pass.
“At the outset of the meeting, the participants expressed their unanimous unwillingness to support the proposed open-Internet framework in its present form as they understand it,” according to the ex parte document.
Copps has been in the news lately for his increasingly strident demands for new authority to regulate broadcast content. He suggested in a speech that the FCC share authority on campaign-finance regulation with the FEC as well require network affiliates to have 25% locally-produced content in prime time. At other times, Copps has proposed that the FCC approve the content of news shows. As far as statists go, well, Copps pretty much goes all the way and then some.
The question will be whether Copps believes in half-loaves over none at all. John Kerry is pushing Copps to take what Genachowski can get, while Al Franken says that a weak bill will do more damage than a punt. Meanwhile, a Republican House has its red pen poised over the FCC and other agencies (the EPA, for instance) that insist on exceeding the authority granted them by Congress. That puts Copps and Genachowski in a difficult position, at least in terms of relations with their Net Neutrality allies.
The best strategy would be to have Congress make these decisions instead — and it may well turn out that Genachowski won’t have any other choice.