Commerce Secretary Plugs Cable Agenda

The cable industry may feel it is the object of a vindictive vendetta of FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin, but the commerce secretary pointed this week to some areas of agreement.

Carlos M. Gutierrez praised the industry in a speech at the 2008 Cable Show in New Orleans for its DTV educational efforts and aggressive rollout of broadband services.

He also ventured into the so-called net neutrality issue, repeating Martin’s statement that the FCC has enough tools already to fight abuses by Internet providers.

“Government should avoid overly prescriptive regulations that can’t keep pace with technological change,” Gutierrez said. “The rapid pace of change makes it difficult to even define what constitutes ‘reasonable network management.’ Network providers need flexibility to manage congestion quickly and effectively. A transparent, competitive market provides the best mechanism to ensure networks are managed reasonably, while meeting consumer demands. ... Providers know that consumers who can’t get the service they need will go elsewhere.”

He also urged transparency of network management policy and disclosure to consumers.

Gutierrez also supported Martin on another matter, bashing the U.S. Senate for its voice vote last week passing a “resolution of disapproval” against the FCC’s December order on media ownership.

“Let me say how disappointed I am with the Senate’s vote last week to overturn the FCC rule allowing cross-ownership of newspapers and broadcast stations in the nation’s top 20 media markets,” he said. “We believe this discourages a diversity of media voices and hinders efforts to enhance local content, and I’ll recommend that the president veto this bill if it reaches his desk.”