by Barry Smith
Tennessee has sued the Federal Communications Commission, saying the regulatory agency overstepped its authority when it voted in February to override state laws placing restrictions on municipal broadband.
North Carolina is one of the states that has similar laws. A spokeswoman for Attorney General Roy Cooper said the AG’s office trying to decide whether to join in the lawsuit.
“We have not made any filing to date, though we are evaluating whether to partner with Tennessee in appealing the decision in the Sixth Circuit,” said Noelle Talley, Cooper’s spokeswoman.
While not prohibiting municipalities from running Internet and cable TV lines and providing programming, North Carolina does place restrictions on such ventures. Those include requiring cities to pay local and state taxes, not use general tax dollars to pay for broadband expenses, and hold a bond referendum if it plans to borrow money for its investment.
The North Carolina city of Wilson joined Chattanooga, Tenn., in asking the FCC to trump state law. The FCC obliged.