Telecommunications in the 113th Congress

The 112th Congress saw a lot of activity focused on new and changing technologies, but few legislative breakthroughs. Early in the year, there was significant activity around intellectual property and online piracy issues, culminating in the controversy surrounding the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act (PROTECT IP or PIPA). A number of cybersecurity proposals passed the House, but the Senate was not able to come to an agreement and cybersecurity remains a top policy priority for both Congress and the White House.

Even though there were few legislative breakthroughs in the last session, the spectrum provisions in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act constituted a major policy change. Spectrum will continue to be a key issue moving forward, and oversight of the FCC’s incentive auction process is expected to be a priority for Congress in the 113th Congress. In addition, we may see some piece-meal legislation introduced in an attempt to update the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and the Cable Act of 1992. Perhaps the only “must-pass” piece of legislation is the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA) reauthorization. This law expires in 2014, so reauthorization is a top priority, and may serve as a vehicle for other video related legislation.

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