Delivering the keynote address at the Internet and Television Expo (INTX) hosted by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler advised an audience of cable industry executives on Wednesday to “overcome the temptation to use your predominant position in broadband to protect your traditional cable business.” The Chairman asserted that the cable industry crossed a “critical tipping point” late last year during which the number of cable broadband subscribers nationwide exceeded the number of cable video subscribers.
INTX is the newly-named successor of the annual NCTA Cable Show. Agreeing that the new INTX name reflects the perception that NCTA’s members are no longer “the cable industry,” Wheeler told his listeners: “you are the leading association of leading broadband providers.” Because “your principal business is now broadband,” Wheeler stated, “as you have changed, so have the issues, obligations and the opportunities.” Wheeler thus proclaimed that the challenge for NCTA members in the new broadband-driven environment is “to continue to invest and innovate” and “to live up to the commitments you have made in the open Internet debate to avoid discriminatory acts that will impair the value of broadband and the Internet.”
With respect to the FCC’s related pending rulemaking proceeding to amend the definition of a multichannel video program distributor (MVPD), Wheeler said he favors “a technology-neutral definition that includes Internet-based companies that chose business models that fit” the status of an MVPD. Answering critics of the FCC’s decision to enact a Title II approach to broadband in which the FCC would forbear from enforcing many of the common carrier regulations that apply to wireline telephone companies, Wheeler said “I take you at your word that you will protect an open Internet,” but questioned: “what about those people that follow you?”
As he thanked Wheeler for his remarks, NCTA President Michael Powell maintained that NCTA’s members are “strong supporters of an open and robust Internet that is delivering ever-increasing speeds and a great experience for American consumers.” Heralding cable as “the largest broadband industry in America,” Powell termed INTX as “just a small example of how the cable industry is providing a platform of possibilities that is open for all kinds of transformative services and groundbreaking opportunities.”