Consent Decree Process – Legalized Extortion

by Mike Wendy on March 25, 2011

Get ready for the horse-trading surrounding the AT&T / T-Mobile acquisition.  As I have noted here this week, many see the proposed deal as another bite at the apple, helping them achieve policy objectives they couldn’t previously achieve at the FCC and in Congress.  Sort of like a regulatory fourth overtime for a March Madness basketball game.

The consent decree process – what a crummy way to establish broadband policy.  “Legalized” extortion is the only way to put it.  It would make Tony Soprano proud.  The perverse thing about it is, bad regulations led us here, yet their failure will then be used to further amp and justify more bad regulations.  Oh, well, that’s Washington for ya’.

What’s the old saying?  “When in a hole, stop digging.”

Mr. Policymaker – it’s time to stop digging!

Wall Street Journal

“There’s no way the chairman’s office rubber-stamps this transaction. It will be a steep climb to say the least,” said an FCC official on Wednesday.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Just as it did with the recent Comcast Corp. acquisition of NBC Universal, the FCC also might find creative ways to strike the right balance to make a wireless megadeal better for consumers. The Comcast deal includes provisions to help low-income customers get online, promote diverse and local TV and Internet programming, and help preserve Internet access for all users.

The Economist

In fact [President Obama] should push the FCC to promote more competition—by, for instance, allowing other firms to buy bulk wireless capacity from AT&T and resell it, by freeing up underused spectrum and by making local phone and cable firms share their wires.

NewsFactor Network

If this goes through, you are going to find senators and representatives and the FCC put so many restrictions as to how AT&T can change the rate structure that it’s not going to be funny. AT&T may actually back out of the deal if that happens.


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