Dear Chairman Pai and Commissioners,
We write in support of the draft Third Report and Order on the implementation of Section 621 of the Cable Act and urge its adoption at the Commission’s August open meeting.
The Order wisely reaffirms statutory guardrails on cable franchising and represents a significant win for consumers. It provides a welcome curb on the efforts of some local and state governments to get around the Cable Act’s clear statutory caps on franchise fees and clear prohibitions against double-taxing mixed-use cable networks. These practices have a chilling effect on investment in broadband networks, contrary to the bipartisan goals of promoting broadband deployment and boosting broadband adoption.
The Cable Act was drafted to strike a smart balance, ensuring local governments receive fair compensation from cable companies for the use of public rights-of-way while preventing consumers from being burdened by excessive fees. By reaffirming the 5% statutory cap on franchise fees – and appropriately limiting the in-kind demands that can be excepted from this cap – this Order will restore this balance as Congress intended.
Furthermore, the Order reaffirms that local authorities cannot require cable providers to seek multiple franchises – or pay multiple sets of franchise fees – just because their networks have mixed uses. This finding is consistent with both the Cable Act and the Internet Tax Freedom Act, which specifically prevents state and local governments from imposing taxes on broadband access service.
We thank you all for your hard work throughout this proceeding. This Order marks an important step forward in the Commission’s efforts to reduce regulatory obstacles to the swift deployment of wired and wireless broadband infrastructure.
Andrew Langer, President
Institute for Liberty
Dan Schneider, Executive Director
American Conservative Union
Patrick Hedger, Research Fellow Center for Technology and Innovation
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Tom Schatz, President
Citizens Against Government Waste
Jerry Rogers, President
Seton Motley, President
Pete Sepp, President
National Taxpayers Union
David Williams, President
Taxpayers Protection Alliance
Jeff Mazzella, President
Center for Individual Freedom
Charlie Sauer, President
The Market Institute
Phil Kerpen, President
Jason Pye, Vice President of Legislative Affairs
Wayne Brough, President
Innovation Defense Alliance
Zach Graves, Head of Policy
Matthew Kandrach, President
Consumer Action for a Strong Economy
Thomas Giovanetti, President
Institute for Policy Innovation
Bartlett Cleland, Executive Director
Innovation Economy Alliance
Christopher Koopman, Senior Director of Strategy and Research
Center for Growth and Opportunity at Utah State
(Signed in his individual capacity)
Eric Peterson, Director of Policy