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In This List

The US Week Ahead: FTC to assess competition issues in US broadband markets

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The US Week Ahead: FTC to assess competition issues in US broadband markets

Congress is out on recess this week, but the U.S. Federal Trade Commission will remain busy with a March 20 hearing on competition and consumer protection issues in U.S. broadband markets.

The hearing will be the latest in a series from the FTC, which launched an initiative in 2018 to assess whether "broad-based changes in the economy, evolving business practices, new technologies, or international developments might require adjustments to competition and consumer protection law, enforcement priorities, and policy."

The hearing will feature speeches and panel discussions on topics including technological developments in broadband markets and networking, as well as identifying efficiencies and remedying competitive harms in broadband markets.

Speakers and panelists included in the day-long event will be drawn from a range of backgrounds, such as members of academia who specialize in economics and business, antitrust lawyers and tech policy advocates.

Turning to industry events, the American Cable Association, a trade group that represents small and midsize cable companies, will host its annual summit focused on regulatory topics and lobbying in Washington, D.C., on March 19-21.

Prominent regulators, including U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, Republican FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly and Makan Delrahim, assistant attorney general for the antitrust division at the U.S. Department of Justice, are all expected to speak.

American Cable Association President Matthew Polka indicated in a March 6 statement that the organization believes that recently introduced legislation from Democratic members of Congress seeking to restore net neutrality protections and reclassify broadband as a Title II telecommunications service under the law, which would give the FCC more regulatory authority over broadband service providers, would be a step too far.

Polka did suggest, however, that the group supports federal legislation that prohibits blocking or throttling of legal internet traffic or prioritizing certain traffic for payment.

Democratic lawmakers in support of the bill say giving more regulatory authority to the FCC is necessary to put a "cop on the beat" to protect consumers from discriminatory practices from internet service providers.

Finally, as for Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc.'s failed attempt to acquire Tribune Media Co., the American Cable Association opposed the deal and suggested that it would result in consumers paying higher pay TV rates. Recently, the group reiterated a call for the FCC to expedite a proceeding on Sinclair's license renewals after the agency's administrative law judge said in a March 5 order that character concerns related to proposed station divestitures from Sinclair raised by the commission when it evaluated the proposed merger warrant further evaluation.

Sinclair denied misleading the commission in response to the claims and said the deal would have created "numerous public interest benefits."

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Federal government
March 20

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission will host a hearing on competition and consumer protection in U.S. broadband markets.

Industry and think tank events
March 18 The Federal Communications Bar Association will host an event titled "Intellectual Property and Video Programming & Distribution Committees Brown Bag Lunch" in Washington, D.C.
March 19 The Telecommunications Industry Association will host a policy forum on managing the information and communications technology supply chain in Washington, D.C.
March 19 The American Action Forum, an economic and fiscal policy nonprofit, will host an event titled "Approaches to Regulating Technology — From Privacy to A.I." in Washington, D.C.
March 19-21 The American Cable Association will host its annual summit focused on regulatory topics and lobbying in Washington, D.C.
March 21 The Federal Communications Bar Association will host an event titled "International Telecommunications Committee Brown Bag Lunch" in Washington, D.C.
March 21 The Federal Communications Bar Association will host its annual privacy and data security symposium in Washington, D.C.

Stories of note:

Disappearing dividends deepen divide between AT&T, Verizon and smaller telcos

FCC moves to open up ultra-high-band spectrum for experimentation

Analysis: Push to break up big tech faces long odds

Hearing highlights divide among Democrats, Republicans over net neutrality bill