Satellite Privatization Opposed

Satellite Privatization Opposed

A new proposal to privatize satellite operations is coming under fire as delaying or possibly stopping competition.

In an odd alignment of opponents, House Commerce Telecommunications Subcommittee Chairman W.J. (Billy) Tauzin, R-La., and Commerce ranking member John Dingell, D-Mich., proposed an amendment Thursday that is strongly opposed by supporters of a bill introduced by House Commerce Chairman Bliley and Telecommunications ranking member Edward Markey, D-Mass.

Both proposals claim to seek the goal of privatizing INTELSAT, the international consortium that oversees worldwide satellite communications. The Tauzin-Dingell compromise would set a timetable for privatization and punish the consortium if it did not meet the milestones. But opponents complained that it would eliminate the threat to limit access to U.S. markets, which, in turn, would remove the major incentive for INTELSAT to privatize.

"Unfortunately, this proposed compromise radically changes the key provisions of Chairman Bliley's legislation," said the Alliance for Competitive International Satellite Services, a coalition of satellite communications companies.

Two planned markups of the legislation have been delayed already, and a third is slated for next week.

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