Net Neutrality

Cablevision CEO Shrugs Off Title II

Unlike most of his fellow top US cable and telco executives, Cablevision Systems CEO James Dolan isn't losing any sleep over the proposed new net neutrality rules from the federal government.

Speaking on Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC)'s fourth-quarter earnings call Wednesday, Dolan said he's not all that concerned about the Title II proposal outlined by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler and expected to be approved by the full Commission later today. Although he's not crazy about the idea of greater regulation of the Internet, he doesn't think it will actually have much, if any, impact on his company's broadband investment plans.

"The idea of more regulation is never great for us," he said in response to an analyst's question about the FCC's pending vote. "But, to be honest, we don't see what the chairman has been discussing as having any real effect on our business. So we're pretty neutral."

Dolan's remarks stand in stark contrast to comments made by most other senior cable and telco executives in the run-up to today's FCC meeting. Just the day before, for instance, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) Chairman & CEO Brian Roberts called the proposed Title II regulatory regime "antiquated" with "real downsides" and said the move would introduce "the unnecessary risks associated with 1930s-style regulations" to the Internet. "We don't believe Title II is the right answer," he said. (See Comcast Sweats Title II Rules.)

As spelled out so far, Wheeler's proposal, while calling for a utility-style regulatory regime for broadband providers, would exempt them from rate regulations, tariffs, last-mile network unbundling and other types of restrictions they have feared. But most major broadband providers remain very uneasy at best about the idea because of the potential for price regulations and other restrictions down the line. (See The Sound of One Hand Clapping.)

As the FCC settles in for its historic vote later this morning and this story develops, we'll have continuing team coverage of the action and the broadband industry's reaction to it. So check back on our site early and often throughout the day.

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

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