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Issue Watch

2016 Issue Watch

NAB: FCC Can't Force Online Play of TV Content

The National Association of Broadcasters told the FCC this week that to grant the pay-TV industry what it wants in the ongoing retransmission consent good faith negotiations proceeding would make it an unwitting accomplice in that industry's attempt to grab more revenue.  One of the things the FCC can't compel is online play, NAB said.

Various pay-TV operators want the FCC to require outside arbitration of retrans impasses, make blackouts de facto bad faith negotiating, and wouldn't mind the FCC scrapping the syndicated exclusivity and network nonduplication rules that backstop contractual exclusivity.

They have also suggested the FCC should prevent broadcasters from withholding content online during impasses, but NAB says it would be unlawful for the FCC "to require broadcasters to make their content available online."

"Federal copyright law gives broadcasters the right to control whether, how and when their content is distributed," NAB said. "Nothing supports the view that the FCC can supersede copyright law to require broadcasters to publicly perform their copyrighted material online." » Read More

Obama in SOTU: We've Protected an Open Internet

President Obama stuck generally to the "vision thing" in his last State of the Union (SOTU) speech, talking about his vision of America as a strong, compassionate country that takes care of the poor, the environment, and its business at home and abroad.  But he also worked in some specifics that resonated with the media community, including trade and an open Internet.

He talked about the need for technological innovation, something Consumer Technology Association had said needed to be in the speech, but did not spend much time on specifics.

He also listed Open Internet rules among the things he said his Administration has done to nurture that spirit of innovation. "We've protected an open internet, and taken bold new steps to get more students and low-income Americans online," he said, an apparent reference to the FCC's E-rate program to boost online access by schools and libraries.

He also called for congressional passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal backed by the Hollywood TV and movie studios. » Read More

McDowell: Broadband Rate Bill Needs Tightening

Former FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell plans to tell Congress that a new bill meant to block the FCC from using Title II authority over ISPs to regulate broadband rates should explicitly extend to rates ISPs may charge to edge providers or other ISPs or backbone providers (interconnection).

McDowell, who is a partner at Wiley Rein, is testifying at a House Communications Subcommittee hearing Jan. 12 on four communications bills, including H.R. 2666, the No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act.

According to his prepared testimony, McDowell says that: "To avoid any confusion as to what H.R. 2666 is intended to address, it should be revised to state with specificity that it refers to all forms of regulation of the rates for Internet access services, including peering and interconnection." » Read More