Thursday, December 15, 2005

Senator DeMint Proposes Market-based Communications Reform Bill

Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, introduced the Digital Age Communications Act (DACA). The bill aims to create a communications regulation system that is market-oriented and competition-based. According to the Senator, under DACA:

  • The communications industry would be regulated like other businesses, by protecting consumers and ensuring businesses do not engage in unfair competition.

  • Services that are alike from a consumer's perspective would be treated alike. For example, phone service, whether offered by a cable, land-line, or wireless company, would have to comply with the same regulations.

  • The Universal Service Program would be reformed to make all service providers contribute equally and make the distribution of the funds more efficient, transparent, and technologically neutral.

  • Cable television franchises would be phased out over 4 years.

  • Each state would continue to play an important role in enforcing federal rules and would retain the authority to protect consumers and manage public rights-of-way.

In a statement, BellSouth's Herschel L. Abbott, Vice President - Government Affairs, said "We applaud Senator DeMint on the introduction of this forward looking legislation that is designed to assure that market forces and competition replace the outdated regulatory forces that continue to hold our industry back. We are particularly pleased with the bill's focus on further clarifying the role that state commissions should play in regulating the industry."

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