The Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing today that was billed, in part, as an investigation into the competitive implications of broadband caps on online video. But you wouldn’t have known that from watching the hearing itself. Much of the questions from the committee for the witnesses concerned rural access to broadband — largely a reflection of the rural-state makeup of the committee, including chairman John Rockefeller (D-WV) — the educational uses of interactive technology and a long colloquy between Sen. Ben Nelson of Florida and Susan Whiting of Nielsen over how TV ratings work. The shift in focus made much of the witnesses’ prepared testimony irrelevant, to say nothing of materials submitted to the committee by groups that were not represented at the witness table. Nonetheless, it was clear from the hearing that at least some members of the Commerce Committee, including the chairman, are at least thinking about revisiting the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which provides the current statutory framework for the regulation of broadcast and cable TV, to incorporate new rules for Internet distribution. That would inevitably turn into a huge lobbying fight that would make the battle over SOPA seem like small change, especially if the federal appeals court currently reviewing the FCC’s net neutrality regulations throws out the existing rules.