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FCC Boss Wheeler Tells Broadcasters Net Neutrality Is Good for Them

The new rules protect broadcasters from discrimination in reaching an online audience, Wheeler tells conference.

Super Mobility Week/CTIA

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler used the platform of the National Association of Broadcasters show to launch a spirited defense of the new Open Internet rules, even as lawsuits challenging the order pile up in Washington, D.C.

Wheeler sought to build support among the nation’s radio and television broadcasters, arguing that the net neutrality regulations the commission adopted in February will ensure that no one stands in the way of audiences accessing the content they deliver via the Internet.

“The Open Internet order safeguards an increasingly important distribution channel for your most important product — local news and information,” Wheeler said Wednesday in Las Vegas. “It assures that your use of the Internet will be free from the risk of discrimination or hold-up by a gatekeeper.”

Wheeler portrayed the FCC’s net neutrality rules as the 21st century equivalent of the so-called must-carry rules, which require cable television providers in a particular market to carry the signals of local TV stations.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association, the United States Telecom Association and the CTIA this week all filed lawsuits seeking to overturn the FCC’s net neutrality order. The trade groups are challenging the decision to treat broadband providers like a regulated utility.

The FCC is relying on legal authority Congress granted it under Title II of the Communications Act to impose new rules that forbid both wired and wireless Internet providers from blocking or slowing Internet traffic.

The lawsuits, filed this week, allege the FCC’s actions are “arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion.”

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