Justice Department Subpoena Increases Tension Between White House and News Media
It was an article of faith among conservatives before Senator Obama became President Obama, and it has persisted through his reelection: When it comes to the supposedly liberal mainstream media and the first African American Democratic president, it’s a veritable love fest.
The reality, at least among those who cover the president, has been quite a bit different. Reporters have grumbled for several years about being ignored, dismissed and even insulted by White House press officials. More than usual, the White House’s relationship with the press corps has been marked by simmering tension and even mutual contempt.
And now the temperature has been raised to a boil.
The Justice Department’s revelation that it secretly subpoenaed the Associated Press’s phone records in order to hunt down the source of a national security leak has elicited nearly unanimous criticism and condemnation of the department’s action from news organizations.
The media’s unusual united front was spelled out in a letter Tuesday to Attorney General Eric H.Holder Jr. by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, a group that includes the major television networks, magazine publishers and newspapers, including The Washington Post. It called the government’s subpoena of the AP records, “an overreaching dragnet” by the department and demanded the return of phone logs taken from four AP bureaus and reporters’ personal phones. » Read More
Holder Says He Recused Himself From AP Leak Investigation
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Tuesday that he recused himself from involvement in a Justice Department leak investigation that secretly acquired telephone records of Associated Press reporters and editors.
But in response to questions at a news conference, he defended the department's conduct in probing what he described as one of the damaging leaks he has seen.
Holder said he testified in June 2012 that he was interviewed by the FBI in connection with the probe into a leak of classified information to the AP. "To avoid any potential appearance of a conflict of interest," he said, "I recused myself from this matter."
Since then, he said, the investigation has been conducted by the FBI under the direction of the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia and the supervision of the deputy attorney general.
"The decision to seek media toll records in this investigation was made by the Deputy Attorney General consistent with Department regulations and policies," the Justice Department said in a statement shortly before Holder made his remarks. » Read More
Talks in Britain on Press Regulation Break Down
LONDON — Prime Minister David Cameron announced on Thursday that cross-party talks with other political leaders on regulating Britain's rambunctious press had broken down and that he would pursue his own proposal for a system of self-regulation after months of inquiries into the phone hacking scandal, mainly at Rupert Murdoch's tabloid newspapers here.
Mr. Cameron's abrupt move placed new strains on his relationship with the Liberal Democrats, the junior coalition partner with his Conservative Party, and raised the possibility that Liberal Democrats might end up voting with the Labour opposition against Mr. Cameron's proposal for a royal charter to underpin a new self-regulatory body.
The prime minister's action also underscored the divisiveness of the debate about press regulation, at present supervised by a self-regulatory body generally seen as a feeble restraint on newspapers with a reputation for a headlong pursuit of scoops and a frequent disregard for the privacy of politicians, celebrities and others.
In November, after months of hearings, a long-awaited report on the behavior of British newspapers embroiled in the phone hacking scandal, written by Lord Justice Sir Brian Leveson, recommended that press regulation be backed by parliamentary statute, curbing Britain's 300-year-old tradition of broad press freedom.
The Leveson inquiry was established after the hacking scandal peaked in July 2011. At that time, Mr. Murdoch ordered the closing of The News of the World, a flagship Sunday tabloid, after disclosures of widespread hacking, including the cellphone of Milly Dowler, a kidnapped schoolgirl who was later found murdered. » Read More
FCC's McDowell: 'We Are Losing the Fight for Internet Freedom'
FCC commissioner Robert McDowell plans to tell Congress that aggressive action is needed to stem that tide.
"We are losing the fight for Internet freedom," he plans to tell members of the Senate Commerce Committee on Tuesday (March 12). "Unless defenders of Internet freedom and prosperity act quickly, boldly and imaginatively, this tragic trajectory will become irreversible," he says, according to his prepared testimony for an FCC oversight hearing in the committee.
He also plans to tell the committee he thinks the FCC 1) should at least test how to apply, or not apply, traditional regulations to an all-IP world (AT&T has asked the FCC for such test beds); 2) should do nothing to restrict the pool of wireless bidders for broadcast spectrum--including via de facto spectrum caps; 3) and modernize media ownership rules, but not start applying local ownership caps to joint sales agreements.
McDowell has been saying the same thing about the international Internet governance threat before and after the World Conference on International Telecommunications telecom treaty conference in Dubai last December -- he was in attendance -- were the U.S. delegation, joined by more than four dozen allies, refused to sign on to the conference work product because of Internet-related language.
McDowell had some advice for how to counter the trajectory toward a top-down Internet governance model:
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- "Defenders of Internet freedom must act quickly to turn the threat of increased intergovernmental control of the Internet into an opportunity to reverse course through liberalization of markets that will spark competition, investment and innovation;
- "We must offer other nations, especially those in the developing world that feel disenfranchised from Internet governance processes, an alternative to international regulation by improving and enhancing multi-stakeholder entities, such as the Internet Governance Forum ("IGF"); and
- "Congress can and should continue to play a constructive role by amplifying the call for more Internet freedom."
McDowell: Internet Is Under Assault and Inaction Is Not an Option
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) telecom treaty conference in Dubai in December marked the end of international consensus on keeping government hands off the Internet, instead "radically ratcheting up" even more regulation. That is the message from FCC commissioner Robert McDowell to Congress, according to his prepared testimony for an unusual three-way joint House subcommittee hearing on international Internet governance post-Dubai.
"[I]n 2011, then-Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin summed it up best when he declared that his goal, and that of his allies, was to establish 'international control over the Internet' through the ITU," says McDowell. "Last month in Dubai, Putin largely achieved his goal." Talking about the forces being applied to that "one-way ratchet, he said: "Proponents of multilateral intergovernmental control of the Internet are patient and persistent incrementalists who will never relent until their ends are achieved." » Read More
FCC Super WiFi Proposal Prompts Fierce Lobbying
The federal government wants to create super WiFi networks across the nation, so powerful and broad in reach that consumers could use them to make calls or surf the Internet without paying a cellphone bill every month.
The proposal from the Federal Communications Commission has rattled the $178 billion wireless industry, which has launched a fierce lobbying effort to persuade policymakers to reconsider the idea, analysts say. That has been countered by an equally intense campaign from Google, Microsoft and other tech giants who say a free-for-all WiFi service would spark an explosion of innovations and devices that would benefit most Americans, especially the poor.
The airwaves that FCC officials want to hand over to the public would be much more powerful than existing WiFi networks that have become common in households. They could penetrate thick concrete walls and travel over hills and around trees. If all goes as planned, free access to the Web would be available in just about every metropolitan area and in many rural areas.
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President Calls for Study of Effects of Violent Entertainment
The White House's anti-gun violence initiatives include directing the Centers for Disease Control to study the best ways to reduce violence and calling on the Congress to fund specific research on the effects of violent video games and other media on real world violence.
At a press conference surrounded by kids and in front of an audience that included gun violence survivors and families of victims, the president announced a series of steps to address violence recommended by Vice President Joe Biden after conversations with gun control advocates, and opponents, media, academics and others. And more than announce, he signed 23 executive actions (orders). One of those was a memorandum directing the CDC to "conduct research on the causes and prevention of gun violence, including links between video games, media images, and violence."
The White House's online copy of the initiatives asserts that while Congress has for years been blocking the use of funds for research on the causes of gun violence as money to "advocate or promote gun control," which is prohibited. The President says its own legal anlysis finds that language does not prevent such research. In the short term, he said, the CDC will immediately "assess existing strategies for preventing gun violence and identifying the most pressing research questions," and called on Congress to provide $10 million for research into the relationship of violent media and violence. » Read More
Media Groups Talk Parental Tools for Addressing Violent Content
Media trade group heads issued a joint statement late Thursday following their meeting with Vice President Joe Biden on the issue of gun violence and it sounded like the meeting squared with their expectations of a conversation rather than an accusation.
"The entertainment community appreciates being included in the dialogue around the Administration's efforts to confront the complex challenge of gun violence in America," they said. "This industry has a longstanding commitment to provide parents the tools necessary to make the right viewing decisions for their families. We welcome the opportunity to share that history and look forward to doing our part to seek meaningful solutions."
There was no pool coverage, but according to source speaking on background, the meeting was being viewed from the media side as the beginning of a conversation about what the federal government can do about gun violence and what input the entertainment industry can provide about what, if any, impact media violence has on behavior, as well as how the industry provides education and awareness about entertainment content -- ratings, parental controls.
The statement was issued by the Directors Guild of America, Independent Film & Television Alliance, Motion Picture Association of America, NAB, National Association of Theatre Owners and NCTA. » Read More
FCC Seeks Comment on Deregulating ILECs
The FCC is seeking comment on a proposal to deregulate major phone companies. The telephone companies last month asked to get out from under decades of voice service regs.
USTelecom asked for a declaratory ruling that the fact that incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) provide switched-access services no longer means they are presumptively the dominant providers of voice services, pointing to new IP nets and service provided by competitors, like cable operators now bundling voice service into their offerings.
Such a determination would get those telecoms out from under historic tariffs, though not obligations like 911 and privacy and disability access. The FCC has set Feb. 25 as the deadline for comments and March 12 for reply comments. » Read More
FTC Boosts Merger Review Trigger
Attention potential merging media and their financial folks, the Federal Trade Commission has upped its (Hart-Scott-Rodino) competition review threshold for deals, effective immediately.
An FTC/DOJ review for potential competition issues, and the requirement that companies alert the government to the deal, will now be triggered by deals valued at $70.9 million up from $68.2 million last year.
The companies also must wait a set period of time to give the government a chance to review the transaction, although the FTC regularly gives deals with no competition issues the go-ahead via early termination notices.
The FTC is required to review the trigger every year and adjust it based on changes in gross national product. It also upped the threshold for prohibitions on an executive serving as a board member or officer of two competing companies. The trigger used to be if either company had capital, surplus and profits totaling more $27,784,000, unless either company had sales of less than $2,778,400. Now, those figures are $28,883,000 and $2,888,300, respectively.
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ITU Chief Says WCIT-12 Is Not About Freedom of Expression
The delegates at a plenary session of the International Telecommunications Union's WCIT-12 telecom treaty conference in Dubai on Tuesday voted "overwhelmingly" to support the UN's universal declaration of human rights, affirming freedom of opinion and expression through "any medium." That was an effort to allay fears that the conference would be about giving those countries more control over Internet conference. Tunisia also introduced a proposal to explicitly extend that to online in the treaties by adding language that says "the same rights that people have offline mustalso be protected online."
But according to a spokesperson for ITU following a press conference at which Secretary General Hamadoun Touré took no questions, thedelegates did not agree to the U.S. and Canada request that the conference first deal with proposals to change the definition of telecommunications or who the treaties apply to before getting down to the details of any revisions of the treaties. "I don't believe that was the case," he said in response to whether the definitional changes.
Touré did say that discussion had begun on who the treaties apply to, but that that would continue. According to an attendee at the conference, on Monday the European nations joined the U.S. and Canada in that call for dealing with definitions first. » Read More
Critic Takes Aim at FCC Staff's Defense of Ownership Change
Free Press policy director Matt Wood took issue Monday with FCC Media Bureau chief Bill Lake's defense of his chairman's media ownership item.
"[B]ased on what we do know, it is flat-out wrong to suggest that the top four ranking exemption would prevent ownership of a top TV station and a major newspaper in the same market," he said. In a statement Monday (Dec. 3), Lake had said that suggestions the item would make it easier to own a top TV station and a major newspaper were off base.
"Reports that the order would make it easier to own a top TV station and a major newspaper in a market are wrong," he said. "In fact, the order would strengthen the current rule by creating an express presumption against a waiver of the cross-ownership ban to allow such a combination."
FCC chairman Julius Genachowski is proposing to loosen the ban on newspaper/TV cross-ownership in the top 20 markets, but a combo among the top four TV stations and a "major" newspaper would be presumed not in the public interest. In addition, said Lake, "the proposed order preserves the existing TV duopoly rule, which forbids ownership of more than one of the top four TV stations in any market."
Wood said the FCC may be trying to put a damper on News Corp. buying the L.A. Times or Chicago Tribune, but even that "misses the mark," he said, since the Fox stations in L.A. and Chicago often are not in the top four in their markets due to the strength of the Univision stations there. "So, [News Corp. chairman] Rupert Murdoch could still target those flagship newspapers thanks to the rule change this chairman is proposing," he said. » Read More
Genachowski: Cybersecurity Should Not Be Part of ITU Treaties
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski outlined various ways the U.S. government, particularly his commission, was combating cyberattacks, but that does not include a coordinated global effort if it means adding cybersecurity provisions to international telecommunication regulations.
He was echoing Ambassador Terry Kramer, who was tapped by President Obama to lead the U.S. delegation to the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT 12) in Dubai next month, and who raised similar concerns in an American Enterprise Institute speech and panel discussion earlier this week.
Genachowski and Kramer's concerns, shared by a bipartisan -- for once -- Congress are that adding cybersecurity to the ITU to-do list is part of an effort to expand current treaties on ITRS (International Telecommunications Regulations) into the Internet space, and give governments like China, Russia and some Arab states an avenue for control of content and its free flow. » Read More
FCC Proposes Loosening TV/Newspaper Cross-Ownership Ban ... Again
According to commission sources, FCC chairman Julius Genachowski has circulated a media ownership order that loosens the newspaper/TV cross-ownership ban in the top 20 markets and gets rid of the ban on radio/TV cross-ownership and radio/newspaper cross-ownership.
The FCC will loosen the newspaper-TV cross-ownership ban by finding that cross-ownerships in the top 20 markets are presumptively in the public interest, along the lines of changes made by the FCC under former chairman Kevin Martin in 2007.
Broadcasters had been pushing the FCC to scrap the ban, rather than just loosen it, and to provide some relief from local market ownership caps. » Read More
Kramer: WCIT Conference Must Steer Clear of Internet
The U.S. is nonnegotiable on the point that international telecom treaties not be expanded to include the Internet, and Ambassador Terry Kramer, tapped by President Obama to lead the U.S. delegation to the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT 12) in Dubai next month, said as much so Tuesday in no uncertain terms.
At an American Enterprise Institute (AEI) event in Washington on Tuesday, he signaled that the U.S. could walk if the conference morphed into an effort to extend the UN's International Telecommunications Union (ITU) treaties on traditional telecom into Internet governance and content control, which he pointed could come via innocuous-sounding changes. FCC commissioner Robert McDowell, who was also a speaker, seconded that motion. » Read More
A Facebook court battle: Is ‘liking’ something protected free speech?
Daniel Ray Carter Jr. logged on to Facebook and did what millions do each day: He “liked” a page by clicking the site’s thumbs up icon. The problem was that the page was for a candidate who was challenging his boss, the sheriff of Hampton, Va.
That simple mouse click, Carter says, caused the sheriff to fire him from his job as a deputy and put him at the center of an emerging First Amendment debate over the ubiquitous digital seal of approval: Is liking something on Facebook protected free speech?
Carter filed a lawsuit claiming that his First Amendment rights had been violated, and his case has reached the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. This week, Facebook and the ACLU filed briefs supporting what they say is Carter’s constitutional right to express his opinion, signaling the case’s potentially precedent-setting nature.
The interest was sparked by a lower court’s ruling that “liking” a page does not warrant protection because it does not involve “actual statements.” If the ruling is upheld, the ACLU and others worry, a host of Web-based, mouse-click actions, such as re-tweeting (hitting a button to post someone else’s tweet on your Twitter account), won’t be protected as free speech. » Read More
FCC Denies Stay of Online Public File Rule Change
The FCC has denied NAB’s request that the agency stay the effectuation of the new online public file rules for television stations. The rules are due to take effect Aug. 2. The commission has planned a demo next Tuesday, July 17, of the interface that broadcasters would use to upload their files to the agency’s new online public file database, we’ve reported.
NAB had also filed a Petition for Review at a federal appeals court. This week, anticipating the FCC’s rejection, NAB filed a separate motion asking the appeals court to stay the activation of the rules while the court considers the trade group’s petition. NAB has called the new requirement arbitrary and capricious, and says requiring TV stations to place their public inspection files online puts them at a disadvantage. That’s because the files would also include political files, including the price of political advertising — a requirement their satellite and cable competitors do not have, NAB argues.
The FCC, which is also considering applying the new requirement to radio, says the rules will make stations’ public documents easier for the public to find. In the agency’s decision, the commission says NAB failed to show the new rules would cause stations irreparable harm and that the NAB is likely to prevail on the merits of its claims. NAB has also failed to show that other parties would not be harmed if a stay is granted or that a stay would serve the public interest, said the FCC. » Read More
Supreme Court: Lying About Military Medals Is Protected by Constitution
The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a federal law that made it a crime to falsely claim being awarded a top military honor, saying the law smacked of an Orwellian Truth Ministry and threatened free speech. The court invalidated the Stolen Valor Act, under which a California man, Xavier Alvarez, 54, was convicted for claiming falsely in 2007 that he had been awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for valor. But Alvarez’s attorneys convinced a lower court that his untruths were protected by the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech. And Thursday, the Supreme Court agreed in a 6 to 3 decision.
“Lying was his habit,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote of Alvarez. He “lied when he said that he played hockey for the Detroit Red Wings and that he once married a starlet from Mexico.” And he lied “in announcing he held the ... Medal of Honor,” Kennedy wrote. “None of this was true. For all the record shows ... [the] statements were but a pathetic attempt to gain respect that eluded him.” But they are not illegal, he concluded. » Read More
OMB Approves Online Political File Paperwork Collection
According to the Sunlight Foundation, which has been pushing for TV station online political file posting, the Office of Management and Budget late last week informed the FCC it had approved the paperwork-collection requirements of the FCC's online political file posting order. OMB has to approve any new regs that impose new paperwork collection requirements. A National Association of Broadcasters spokesperson also said the rules had been approved. An FCC spokesperson was not available for comment. The rules, which were approved in April, have not yet been published in the Federal Register. The new requirement does not become effective until 30 days afterthat. The FCC is requiring the top four network affiliated TV stations in the top 50 markets to send the FCC their political files, which include spot prices, for posting in a database administered by the FCC. The balance of TV stations will follow suit within two years, though the FCC will seek comment after ayear on how the initial requirement is impacting those first 200 stations. » Read More
Supreme Court Says FCC Indecency Policy, as Applied, Was Too Vague
The Supreme Court Thursday vacated a Second Circuit decision that the FCC's indecency enforcement regime as applied to swearing and nudity on Fox and ABC TV stations was unconstitutional, but concluded that the FCC did not give broadcasters sufficient notice.
It is a victory for Fox and ABC, who were the subjects of the complaints at issue -- and in ABC's case a fine -- but not for First Amendment attorneys hoping for the Court to rule on the constitutionality of the overarching policy. It also leaves the FCC's indecency enforcement policy in limbo, and likely means the FCC will not be handing out fines or findings anytime soon.
We're pleased with the decision of the Supreme Court regarding the episode of NYPD Blue, and we are reviewing the entire ruling carefully," said ABC in a statement.
The Court did not reach the constitutionality of the FCC indecency enforcement policy, but instead said that "because the Commission failed to give Fox or ABC fair notice prior to the broadcasts inquestion that fleeting expletives and momentary nudity could be found actionably indecent, the Commission's standards as applied to these broadcasts were vague."
The decision was unanimous -- Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor did not participate -- and the Court went out of its way to point out how narrow the ruling was. » Read More
Broadcast Groups Petition FCC To Reconsider Political File Posting Decision
Major broadcast groups have asked the FCC to reconsider its requirement that they put sensitive political information online "immediately and for everybody to see," offering an opt-in alternative for broadcasters they say would expand the reporting requirement without diminishing their ability to compete in the marketplace. In a petition filed on Monday, the deadline for filing for reconsideration of the FCC's April vote requiring the posting of TV stationpublic files online, the broadcasters against pressed for a compromise of posting aggregate political spot figures. Broadcasters signing on to the petition are Barrington, Belo, Cox, Scripps, Hearst, Gannett, LIN, Meredith, Post-Newsweek, Raycom and Schurz.
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Labor Department backs off plan forcing reporters to use government-issued computers
The Labor Department has backed off a plan to force news agencies to use government-issued computers and other equipment to report on jobless reports and other key economic data, following a GOP-led House hearing this week, according to several published reports.
Agency officials have said they want reporters who analyze, then write about economic reports inside their so-called “lock up” room to use U.S. computers, software and Internet lines so the government can further protect against such potential security breaches as hacking.
But the plan also resulted in cries about potential free-speech violations and the government now having computer access to news agencies.
“This proposal threatens the First Amendment,” Bloomberg News Executive Editor Dan Moss said during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing. “The government would literally open the reporters’ notebooks.”
Carl Fillichio, a Labor Department communications specialist, told committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., at the close of the hearing Wednesday that he would provide some flexibility on the June 15 deadline. » Read More
Media Execs In Dispute With Labor Department Cite Progress
Media organization executives are citing progress in their dispute with the Labor Department over its proposal to require news organizations to use government computers to file stories on jobs data. Testifying to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday, Reuters and Bloomberg News officials revealed little detail about the movement they said occurred in talks with administration officials. Dow Jones and The Associated Press have also participated. The news organizations have fought the proposal to use government equipment. Until now, data are given to reporters in a department "lock up" room minutes before the official release so they can prepare their stories and then file them when the information is publicly released. The department had originally proposed requiring reporters to use government computers, not their own equipment. » Read More
1st Amendment Fight Pits Media, Labor Department Over Jobs Data Rules
As if there weren't reason enough to be nervous on jobs day. News reports on future government employment figures could be riddled with errors, while the government tramples the First Amendment rights of the reporters themselves.
[Read about the latest troubling federal debt figures.]
That was what representatives from the journalism industry said at a Wednesday House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing that addressed new Labor Department protocol for how the monthly employment report is released.
"Under the DOL proposal, the government would own and control the reporters' notebook. This is an unheard of intrusion of government into one of [our] most cherished freedoms," said Daniel Moss, executive editor for economy and international government at Bloomberg News, in his testimony before the committee…. » Read More
New Rules on Labor Data Risk Market Turmoil: Sen. Blunt
The Department of Labor’s move to restrict how journalists transmit market-sensitive economic data risks disrupting financial markets, Senator Roy Blunt said. In a letter to Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, Blunt, a Missouri Republican, objected to the agency’s plan to have media organizations remove from the department computer software, hardware and communications lines used to transmit news on data such as the unemployment rate and consumer prices. “Given the market-moving impact of these numbers and the largely automated processes of today’s market institutions, even a minor flaw in the timing or accuracy of this data could result in a destructive impact on global markets,” Blunt wrote in his letter, dated today. » Read More
DOL Still Mum on Data Lockup Decision
Officials are not instituting major changes to their "lockup" process for releasing new jobless and unemployment data to selected media outlets because of two apparent violations by participating journalists in recent years, according to a knowledgable Labor Department official. The changes include forcing participating journalists to use government-provided computers, software and hardware instead of their own during the 30 minutes prior to general release of the data when they get the new numbers and write their initial news stories and analyses about them. Interested media organizations are also being required to re-apply for credentials, with the understanding that there are a limited number of seats available in the secured "lockdown" room, and that no one will be guaranteed access without clearing the new credentially process. » Read More
FCC Votes To Post TV Station Political Files Online
The FCC voted Friday to require TV stations to publish their public files online. Those are the files that contain information about, among other things, their compliance with kids TV programming minimums, EEO files, joint sales agreements and files on political ad buys.
The commission will initially require the online political posting from TV stations affiliated with the Big Four networks in the top 50 markets -- within 30 days after the rules take effect -- then the rest of the stations two years after that. The other public files must be posted by all stations within six months after the rules go into effect. It will not require posting existing political file information (it must be kept for two years), only new information going forward.
The commission will examine the impact of the political file online posting after a year, before it applies to all stations…. » Read More
• Statement by FCC Comm. Robert McDowell
ATSC's Richer Named Chairman of Future of Broadcast Television Initiative
The Future of Broadcast Television (FoBTV) initiative has announced that Mark Richer, who is president of Advanced Television Systems Committee, has been elected FoBTV chairman and that Phil Laven, chairman of the Digital Video Broadcasting Project (DVB) has been named FoBTV vice chairman.
In addition, Wenjun Zhang of NERC-DTV was named its first chairman of the FoBTV Technical Committee.
The formation of the group was announced last week at NAB, when a number of major broadcasters, standards organizations, research groups and industry associations come together in an effort to develop more standardized technologies for the next generation of terrestrial broadcasting. The effort, if successful, would mark a major shift from the traditional broadcast landscape, where broadcasters have traditionally adopted different standards in different regions of the world…. » Read More
NRB: DeMint/Scalise Bill Could Be 'Fatal' To Religious Stations
National Religious Broadcasters President Frank Wright sent letters to Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) Monday telling them their Next Generation Television Marketplace Act could be "fatal" to religious broadcasters.
The legislators introduced Senate and House versions of that deregulatory chain saw last fall, aimed at clearing out "decades-old" regs they argue represent the government inappropriately picking winners and losers in the marketplace.
The bill would scrap the must-carry mandate, repeal retransmission consent provisions and compulsory licenses, and get rid of ownership rules.
It is extremely unlikely to pass, but that did not stop Wright from warning its sponsors that getting rid of must-carry rules "may harm the ability of millions of Americans to continue accessing the religious programming on which they rely." » Read More
High Court fails to signal position on ownership
The Supreme Court last week did not issue an up or down vote on broadcasters’ challenge to the FCC’s media ownership rules. That leaves the status of media ownership rules in about the same place they have been for almost a decade—essentially unresolved, and with broadcasters still lacking the regulatory certainty to chart an otherwise challenging future.
The Court took no action after reportedly conferencing on three broadcaster appeals to the 3rd Circuit Court decision vacating the newspaper/broadcast crossownership changes and upholding the FCC’s 2007 decision—one reinforced by the present commission—not to loosen duopoly rules. As it stands, neither the FCC nor broadcasters know whether the Court will hear the appeals, which means the FCC cannot proceed unimpeded with its proposed rule modifications since they could wind up being mooted…. » Read More
NCTA: Time To Ditch Dual Carriage
The National Cable & Telecommunications Association is ready for the FCC to stop requiring it to carry TV stations in both analog and digital versions, arguing the dual carriage mandate is consumer unfriendly, unwieldy, no longer justifiable in a fiercely competitive marketplace, and unconstitutional.
The commission last month had suggested that the three-year requirement that cable operators carry must carry stations in both formats as part of the 2009 DTV transition should be extended another three years. While cable operators belonging to NCTA voluntarily agreed to the initial three-year carriage, even saying they would do so whether or not there was a mandate, they are ready to free up that bandwidth for the demands of an HD-filled, over-the-top delivered world. Cable ops are also required to deliver must-carry stations in HD if that is how they are delivered over-the-air.
The FCC voted in September 2007 to mandate dual-carriage for three years beyond the DTV switchover date of Feb. 17, 2009. The FCC last month asked for comment on whether to extend the mandate, clarifying that when the DTV date was moved to June 12, so was the three-year end date, which gives the FCC until June 12 of this year to extend the requirement or let it sunset. » Full Story
NAB Supports Extending Cable Carriage Mandate
Not surprisingly, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) wants the FCC to retain its cable analog carriage mandate for another three years. NAB also supports small cable operators' bid to retain their waiver of the HD carriage mandate for another three years. "The Viewability Rule has worked well to minimize the disruption of the digital transition to cable subscribers with analog receivers," NAB said. "Since there remain millions of analog receivers served by cable systems, the Commissionshould extend the Viewability Rule to ensure compliance with the Communications Act's command that must carry signals be provided to and viewable by all subscribers to a cable system."
The commission last month asked whether it should extend the mandate that cableoperators deliver all TV stations' digital signals in analog format to analog customers or, alternatively, make sure all its customers have the equipment to view a digital signal. » Full Story
Industry Reacts to FCC's Proposed
Changes to Media Ownership Rules
The industry had varied reactions to the FCC's proposed modifications to its media ownership rules. NAB, Gray Television, NAA support repeal of the cross-ownership ban, while Free Press and ATVA oppose relaxation of therules. The following arereactions from various media companies and organizations.
NAB: FCC Should Allow More Duopolies in More Markets
Association says the newspaper-broadcasting cross-ownership rules should be scrapped More
Free Press Opposes FCC Proposal to Relax Ownership Rules
Says broadcasters are skirting the rules, should be treated like duopoly More
ATVA Members: FCC Should Tighten Ownership Regs On Broadcasters
Want the FCC to prohibit stations in the same market from coordinating retransmission consent negotiations More
NAA: FCC Retention of Cross-Ownership Ban Would Violate Administrative Procedures Act
Newspaper association says repealing ban would boost investment in TV stations, newspapers More
Gray Television Asks FCC to Repeal TV Duopoly Rule
Used recent coverage of deadly twisters to argue that "innovative cost-sharing and services arrangements" would help provide even more such life-saving coverage More
» Full Story
Megaupload users’ data may get zapped this week
Federal prosecutors say Megaupload users’ data could be deleted as soon as Thursday (Feb. 2). U.S. prosecutors blocked access to the electronic file-sharing service Jan. 19 and charged seven men, saying the company facilitated millions of illegal downloads of movies, music and other content. The company says its users, who it claimed numbers 50 million a day, stored their own data, including family photographs and personal documents, through its service. Users haven’t been able to see their data since the government shutdown, but there has been hope they would be able to get it back. Megaupload contracted outside companies to store the data, but company attorney Ira Rothken said Sunday that the government has frozen the company’s money. A letter filed in the case Friday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia said Dulles-based Carpathia Hosting and Cogent Communications Group, which is based in the District, may begin deleting files Thursday…. » Full Story
PIPA Senate vote to be delayed, Reid announces
Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) announced Friday he would delay consideration of measure to combat online piracy, bowing to pressure from a coalition of Internet companies, including Google and Wikipedia, that rallied consumers to their side by saying the legislation could lead to the censorship of popular sites. In a statement, Reid said he would delay the vote scheduled for Tuesday to begin consideration until the Senate Judiciary Committee could make more progress. “We made good progress through the discussions we’ve held in recent days, and I am optimistic that we can reach a compromise in the coming weeks,” Reid said. The announcement by Reid comes two days after Wikipedia, Reddit and other prominent Web sites protested the planned vote by blacking out their sites -- a move that drew widespread attention and spurred a swift reaction from many lawmakers who had previously been supportive of or ambivalent toward the anti-piracy measures.
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Website Megaupload shuttered on piracy charges
Federal authorities shut down one of the Web’s most popular sites Thursday on charges that it illegally shared movies, television shows and e-books, prompting hackers to retaliate by blocking access to several Web sites, including those of the Justice Department and Universal Music. The shutdown of Megaupload was part of a federal indictment accusing the company of running an international criminal organization that allowed consumers to easily watch or share pirated content. The site’s offerings were a virtual bazaar of what the Internet has to offer, including pornography and illegally copied video games, federal officials said. In some cases, people could see movies before they were released in theaters. » Full Story
Issa Introduces OPEN Act as Alternative to SOPA
Rep. Darrell Issa Wednesday officially introduced H.R. 3782, the OPEN (Online Protection & Enforcement of Digital Trade) Act, which is being shopped by critics of the Stop OnlineProtection Act (SOPA) as a more 'net-friendly alternative to combat online piracy. The bill gives the International Trade Commission the charge of investigating the importation of digital content by foreign rogue Websites, just as it does for the importation of illegally imported hard goods. It also targets the funding of proved infringers. Issa said the bill "delivers stronger intellectual property rights for American artists and innovators while protecting the open, accessible Internet Americans deserve." The bill has also been introduced in the Senate by Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). The pair of legislators circulated a draft of the bill last month. The studios and major publishers and unions backing SOPA and PROTECT IP have dismissed the bill. The Copyright Alliance, for example, has said that the bill offers no relief to independent content creators battling online piracy from foreign Web sites. The alliance, which includes NBCUniversal, the National Association of Broadcasters, Viacom, Disney, Time Warner, Sony, News Corp., various guilds and a host of other publishers and artist associations, was blunt in its critique. It said the bill was impractical for artists, had ineffective penalties, provided an insurmountable burden of proof of infringement, gave the ITC inefficient resources, and had no Justice Department enforcement. » Full Story
Usually one of the hardest things to prove in an antitrust case is anti-competitive intent and motive, but Google's new CEO Larry Page has made that much easier for antitrust authorities by unabashedly tying and leveraging Google's search dominance with Google+ in a myriad of overt and covert ways. Upon becoming CEO last April, Mr. Page instituted a new "grand plan" to remake Google with social as the new integrating principle for Google's soon-to-be, fully-integrated web platform, branded simply as Google+; and then Mr. Page underscored the central importance of this business transformation to Google by officially tying all Google "employees' bonuses to the success of Google's social strategy." In a company-wide memo, Google CEO Larry Page mandated that 25% of all Google employees' 2011 bonuses would be tied to the success of its social effort, Google+. » Full Story
Researchers at the Parents Television Council have helpful drop-down menus on their computers loaded with just about every profanity and dirty slang term imaginable. They are handy shortcuts – there are additional ones for violent and sexual content – as the nonprofit group’s headphone-wearing analysts monitor every network prime-time entertainment broadcast for offensive language, bleeped profanity, flashes of nudity, threesomes and gore. The council documents the increasing coarseness of television broadcasts to rate shows and pressure advertisers and provides a one-click process for supporters to file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission. More than 1.4 million complaints are pending. But the Supreme Court is set to hear arguments Tuesday about whether the FCC should still have a role in policing the nation’s airwaves or whether its indecency regulations violate guarantees of free speech and due process. The networks have argued successfully in lower courts that in a revolutionized world in which they exist “side by side” with cable channels that are beyond the FCC’s regulation, singling them out is not only nonsensical but unconstitutional…. » Full Story
The Associated Press and 28 news organizations, including The New York Times Co. and The Washington Post Co., are launching a company that will measure the unpaid online use of their original reporting and seek to convert unauthorized websites, blogs and other newsgathering services into paying customers. The company, called NewsRight, brings together efforts started by the AP and its partners in October 2010 to track the use of stories on websites, blogs and other Internet forums through what it calls the News Registry. The company said Thursday that it is open for business. The organization is led by former ABC News president David Westin. NewsRight encodes original stories with hidden data that includes the writer’s name and when it was published. The encoded stories send back reports to the registry that describe where a story is being used and who is reading it. The technology can even locate stories that have been cut and pasted in whole or in part…. » Full Story
TV newscasts are increasingly seeded with corporate advertising masquerading as news - and the federal government wants to do something about it. Concerned that subtle “pay-for-play” marketing ploys are seeping into the news, the Federal Communications Commission has proposed a regulation that would require the nation’s 1,500 commercial TV stations to disclose online the corporate interests behind the news. The proposal, which could take months to be enacted, has drawn praise from media watchdogs and consumer groups that have criticized the current system, which requires broadcasters to disclose that an advertiser paid for a mention on the news only in the closing credits of a broadcast…. » Full Story
The FCC voted Dec. 22 to propose a number of changes to its media ownership rules, ask whether joint TV stations services agreements should count toward ownership caps, and to seek better ways to promote media ownership diversity, but that vote did not come without some respectful dissention in the rank, including the only "no" vote, which came from a Democrat. Republican Commissioner Robert McDowell called the FCC's approach overly cautious and a form of 'Regulatory Sclerosis' and concurred, rather than approve, the parts he was not happy with, and Democratic Commissioner Michael Copps dissented from loosening the newspaper-broadcast crossownership portion, as he did the last time the FCC took similar action, in 2007 under then-chairman Kevin Martin. Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, who supported the item in its entirety, focused on the diversity initiatives portion…. » Full Story
Verizon Wireless has reached an unorthodox deal with three major cable companies that could transform the way consumers get access to TV, cellphones and the Internet, setting up a consortium of firms with enormous power over mobile and home entertainment. The agreement among the former rivals immediately drew concern from regulators, according to a person familiar with the matter. Advocacy groups said the alliance could limit choices for consumers. Under the deal announced Friday, Verizon will pay $3.6 billion to Comcast, Time Warner and Bright House Networks to use a swath of cellphone airwaves that the cable giants own but do not use. That would cement Verizon’s status as the dominant wireless carrier and give it access to valuable spectrum at a time when its primary rival — AT&T — is struggling to expand its network through a controversial proposed merger with T-Mobile…. » Full Story
Facebook has settled a privacy complaint at the Federal Trade Commission that the company deceived consumers by making consumer information more public, according to an announcement by the FTC. According to a Tuesday release, the FTC said Facebook has agreed to get consumers' approval before it changes the way it shares their data and will have to undergo periodic audits of their privacy practices for the next 20 years. The announcement comes as Facebook reportedly is preparing an initial public offering in the second quarter of next year. Privacy scrutiny by federal enforcement officials has weighed on the company's business prospects, analysts say, and the settlement will clear the way for the stock offering.
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AT&T, with its powerful army of lobbyists and years of experience navigating Washington, thought it could easily persuade the government to approve its merger with T-Mobile. But regulators aren’t buying it, and the $39 billion deal is facing its biggest threat yet. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski dealt a serious blow to the merger Tuesday, moving to block the deal on the basis of findings that it would cause job losses and higher prices for consumers, officials said. It was an unusual move for the FCC, which has not tried to block a deal since 2002. AT&T now faces its second major barrier from the government. The Justice Department’s antitrust division has already sued and is scheduled to present its case against the deal in February before a federal judge. » Full Story
House Communications Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) Thursday asked the White House to step in by "stopping the implementation of the FCC's net neutrality rules." The FCC's network neutrality rules are scheduled to go into effect next month. In concert with Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), Walden wrote the president, saying that the president has for the past year called for reviewing regs that would adversely impact jobs, the economy and innovation. "The net neutrality rules at best create uncertainty in the technology sector and at worst could hinder this vital economic engine from creating the jobs Americans need," they said. Walden and Rogers were not preaching to the choir. The President made net neutrality a campaign platform and publicly praised the FCC's vote to approve what it billed as compromise regs. » Full Story
As studios and unions had hoped and fair use advocates, including consumer electronics companies, had tried to forestall, a companion to the Protect IP Act was introduced Wednesday in the House.
There has been plenty of activity on the issue in the past few days as the Consumer Electronics Association and others asked House members to hold off on the bill until the legislators could hold more meetings with those stakeholders about their concerns. In fact, CEA is bringing venture capitalists to the Hill Thursday (Oct. 27) to argue that the bill--now bills--would undermine the Web economy, kill jobs and stunt innovation.
Like the Protect IP Act, the STOP Online Piracy Act would give law enforcement more power to pursue foreign web sites they suspect of distributing pirated TV shows and movies. Proponents say it would protect legal content while taking a bite out of IP theft crime. Critics, including CEA, say it goes overboard, and overbroad, by allowing copyright owners to shut down sites on mere accusation by forcing ISPs to block access to such sites.
The Judiciary Committee describes it as allowing the Attorney General to seek injunctions against foreign sites that "steal and sell American innovations and products."
"The notoriously litigious content industry could simply accuse a site that it is selling a product that could ‘enable or facilitate' a copyright infringement, thereby allowing accusations to shut down sites vital to the Internet economy," CEDA President Gary Shapiro said Thursday. "This scenario is unacceptable and could lead to mass shut downs of websites and Internet-enabled services." » Full Story
CTIA: The Wireless Association has joined the FCC's side in the legal fight over the commission's new network neutrality rules, which take effect next month. CTIA filed a motion to intervene with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, signaling to the court that it stands by the FCC's decision last December to codify and expand its network neutrality principles.
The legal battle at issue is not the challenge to the rules by Verizon (Verizon Wireless is a CTIA member) as sweeping and unneeded regulation, but the separate challenge to the rules by Free Press and others who took issue with the FCC's decision not to apply the openness and access requirements on mobile broadband, saying there were differences that justified that disparate treatment, but that it would monitor the space and adjust that decision as necessary.
"For several independent reasons the FCC determined that 'mobile broadband presents special considerations that suggest differences in how and when open Internet protections should apply,' CTIA told the court. "The FCC accordingly imposed fewer regulatory burdens on mobile Internet access services than on their fixed-line counterparts. Petitioners challenge the FCC's determination that 'wireless is different' and its decision to regulate mobile services more lightly. CTIA wishes to defend the FCC against that challenge and any related arguments that the FCC erred in imposing too few regulatory burdens." » Full Story
The House Communications Subcommittee will focus its energies on the broadband and wireless industries, at least according to the listed priorities on the Energy & Commerce Committees' just-released fall agenda.
"Broadband and wireless spectrum policy are vital jobs issues and spectrum legislation and FCC process reform will be at the forefront to advance wireless broadband, promote deployment of an interoperable broadband public safety network, create jobs, and reduce the deficit," the parent E&C leadership said.
While the subcommittee's chairman, Greg Walden (R-Ore.), is a former broadcaster, there was no mention of broadcasters, though they will certainly be affected by the spectrum legislation, which will authorize the FCC to pay them to give up spectrum for wireless. The emphasis in the agenda, released by E&C Chair Fred Upton (R-Mich.), appeared to be on smoothing the regulatory path for the wireless industry. » Full Story
According to a copy of the decision, released Tuesday, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals has declined a broadcaster petition for an en banc rehearing of its media ownership ruling.
A three-judge panel of the court in July voted 2-1 to vacate the FCC's loosening of the newspaper-broadcast crossownership ban (though on procedural grounds), smacked down some of its ownership diversity efforts, and supported the decision not to loosen other ownership regs.
Broadcasters then sought a rehearing by the full court, which Monday released its decision. The vote was 4-3 not to re-hear the case.
The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), CBS, Belo, and others had sought the re-hearing in an Aug. 22 filing, saying that the three-judge panel had gotten it wrong and asserting that the Third Circuit appeared to want to retain jurisdiction over the case "in perpetuity." The same three-judge panel had ruled against the rules back in 2004, the petition pointed out.
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The FCC made it official Wednesday, releasing the order scrapping the fairness doctrine and related rules, which applied to both broadcasting and cable.
That was part of the FCC's pruning of 83 media-related rules it called "nonsubstantive, editorial" revisions, including ones that "merely redirect the reader to see similar, re-numbered rules" and ones that had sunset or been struck down by the courts.
The FCC signaled it had scrapped the doctrine Monday, but had jumped the gun a bit and actually circulated the order among the other commissioners for a 48-hour period before releasing it officially Wednesday.
"This Order deletes both broadcast and cable rules referencing the Commission's so-called 'fairness doctrine.' The Commission abrogated the fairness doctrine in 1987, after concluding that it no longer served the public interest, was not statutorily mandated, and was inconsistent with First Amendment values," said the order, released by Media Bureau Chief Bill Lake and FCC Deputy Managing Director Dana Shaffer.
Because it was essentially procedural housecleaning, the rule excisions did not require a vote by the commissioners. » Full Story
On this side of the Atlantic, most of the commentary about the News of the World phone-hacking scandal has consisted in an outpouring of left-wing ressentiment against News Corp.'s American properties, which have nothing to do with the scandal, for not hewing to the liberal-left pieties of the so-called mainstream media. The best distillation of this attitude came from The New Yorker's Hendrik Hertzberg last week: "In terms of its net impact on human welfare, News of the World has been the least evil of Rupert Murdoch's three-cornered Axis of Evil, the other two being the Fox News Network and the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal." This sort of demonization of dissent is common enough to be tiresome and is of a piece with the deplorable and unsuccessful effort (in which Hertzberg participated) to scapegoat conservative media figures for the attempted murder of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. In England, however, the complaint about Murdoch is not merely that he supports "evil" points of view but that he exercises actual power, because the press plays a larger and more direct role in politics there than in the U.S. In all this there is a warning to Americans…. » Full Story
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said July 12 that he was not going to answer hypotheticals about News Corp. TV station license renewals in the wake of the growing phone hacking scandal involving its British tabloid, but indicated he did not see the FCC becoming involved in that issue. "Obviously there is a process going on in the U.K.," he said, "and that is a U.K. process and I don't expect we will be involved with that." That came in a press conference following the FCC's monthly meeting Tuesday (July 12). Asked a second time about the impact of the News Corp. scandal and whether it could call News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch's fitness as a licensee into question, Genachowski said it was the same question. "There is a process going on in the U.K. that is not a process that we expect to get involved with or interfere with." But he did add that: "The Mass Media Bureau here will do its job if any issues arise." » Full Story
Nearly three years after the RIAA said it was "close" to getting Internet service providers to help in their fight against online piracy, that assistance has finally arrived. According to a new agreement unveiled today, the music, movie and ISP industries have agreed upon a graduated response system called "Copyright Alerts." The program sets a set of best practices for how ISP subscribers will be notified when their account has been identified as having been used to download infringing content such as music or movies, as well as a set of actions the ISP will take if the behavior continues. Those collaborating on the deal include entertainment industry organizations like the RIAA, MPAA, A2IM and IFTA, along with associations representing the major ISPs (including Comcast, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner and Verizon) such as the National Cable & Telecommunications Association…. » Full Story
The fate of Arizona’s Clean Elections Act, which the Supreme Court on Monday declared unconstitutional, was foreshadowed March 28, during oral arguments. Lawyers defending the law insisted its purpose was to combat corruption or the appearance thereof. The court has repeatedly said this is the only constitutionally permissible reason for restricting the quantity of political speech. The law’s defenders insisted its purpose was not to “level the playing field” by equalizing candidates’ resources, which the court has declared an unconstitutional reason for regulating speech. But Chief Justice John Roberts replied: “Well, I checked the Citizens Clean Elections Commission Web site this morning, and it says that this act was passed to ‘level the playing field’ when it comes to running for office.” Game over…. » Full Story
House Republicans continue to question how the Federal Communications Commission developed and passed rules designed to prevent anticompetitive behavior online. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., criticized what she called "collusion" between the FCC and the advocacy group Free Press on Friday. On Thursday the conservative group Judicial Watch released emails between Free Press employees and Democratic FCC Commissioner Michael Copps and his staff. "I am deeply disturbed by the revelations of collusion between the FCC and Free Press on the net-neutrality issue. The FCC has moved against the will of the people, the wisdom of Congress, and the order of the courts, to nationalize our most productive marketplace," Blackburn said in a statement sent to reporters. She has vocally opposed the so-called "net neutrality" rules. » Full Story
Free Press, which has been critical of the exit of Republican FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker's exit from regulator to regulated industry (Comcast/NBCU), sent a letter to the four remaining FCC commissioners Thursday asking them to take a pledge that they would not seek a job with either AT&T or T-Mobile, the merger the commission is currently vetting. Free Press, which has been a big critic of both the Comcast/NBCU and AT&T-T-Mobile deals, said: "We ask the commissioners to stand up and declare that they will not seek nor accept employment from AT&T or T-Mobile directly upon leaving their present posts. We ask for assurance that the FCC's commitment is to the public it serves and not to a big payday from potential future employers." » Full Story
Documents made public yesterday by Judicial Watch describe extensive collusion by Federal Communications Commission officials with a left-wing advocacy group in a campaign to expand government regulation of the Internet. The documents, obtained by Judicial Watch in a December 2010 Freedom of Information Act request, were created after Democrat appointees solidified their 3-2 control of the agency in March 2009…. » Full Story
Soon-to-be-former Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker asked the agency’s general counsel for ethics advice in mid-April after receiving an employment overture from Comcast Corp., according to a letter released Thursday by the agency. Ms. Baker announced last month that she will join Comcast’s Washington office to head the NBC lobbying shop. The move came just four months after Ms. Baker, a Republican, voted in favor of Comcast’s deal to acquire control of NBC Universal from General Electric Co…. » Full Story
The House Energy & Commerce Committee's Communications Subcommittee will hold another spectrum hearing June 1. According to the committee, the hearing will be on "Promoting Broadband, Jobs and Economic Growth Through Commercial Spectrum Auctions." It will follow this week's May 25 hearing on"Creating an Interoperable Public Safety Network." The two issues are tied together by bills in the House and Senate that would auction broadcast spectrum to commercial wireless broadband users and use some of that money to fund and maintain an emergency communications network. Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) had said there would be several spectrum-related hearings, but that he did not want to rush a decision about freeing up spectrum…. » Full Story
Antitrust laws alone can’t ensure the free flow of information on the Internet, U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski told a House panel. Genachowski today defended the FCC’s decision in December to ban Internet service providers led by AT&T Inc. (T) and Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) from blocking or slowing Web content sent to home and businesses. Congress should let the so-called net-neutrality rules take hold, the Democratic chairman said in prepared remarks to a House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee. “To undo our framework would increase uncertainty, decrease investment and hurt job creation,” he said. “Antitrust laws alone would not adequately preserve the freedom and openness of the Internet.” » Full Story
The National Cable & Telecommunications Association has told the FCC and the Office of Management and Budget that the FCC has significantly underestimated the time and money it will take to comply with the transparency and complaint procedures it adopted in its Open Internet order (net neutrality rules). OMB is vetting the paperwork-collection requirements to make sure they do not run afoul of Congress's Paperwork Reduction Act mandate to keep bureaucratic tree-killing to a minimum. NCTA has asked for changes in those requirements, which could delay that effective date even more. The FCC, when it approved the rules back in December, said it expected the costs of compliance with new rules on transparency, blocking and unreasonable discrimination to be "small" since the principles are in line with current practice. NCTA says the open-ended rules meancosts and paperwork could be far greater, and wants the FCC to rethink its estimates so that OMB has a better idea of the burden, or amend its requirements. » Full Story
"There are a lot of wolves at the door when it comes to spectrum," House Communications Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden said Wednesday, but he conceded there was a huge demand behind all that huffing and puffing. He told an American Cable Association summit audience that spectrum was an important and valuable commodity held by the public--he is a former broadcaster--and that country needed to get the spectrum issue right. Walden told reporters afterwards that he did not know whether an incentive auction bill paying broadcasters for giving up spectrum would be passed this year. The FCC has been pushing Congress to pass a bill ASAP so it can reclaim spectrum for wireless broadband before a looming spectrumcrunch gets any worse. » Full Story
FCC Commissioner Michael Copps said Thursday he hoped that the spectrum debate was not devolving into a communications civil war, but said it probably was. He also gave a shout out to both broadcasting and wireless as "essential," and said that the FCC needs to do a better job of inventorying spectrum. That came in an interview for C-SPAN's “Communicators” series. The "civil war" comment was in response to statements by National Association of Broadcasters President Gordon Smith about the efficiency of broadcasting's one-to-many model versus the one-to-one cellular delivery model. Smith has said there might not be enough spectrum in the universe to accommodate one-to-one video.... » Full Story
Communications "condominiums" NGBT plans (no, it has nothing to do with gender preferences), and vouchers. These are only some of the proposals being offered up by broadcasters as they look to protect their spectrum turf from the FCC and the Obama administration, both of which keep eyeing it hungrily. The end game for broadcasters, or more pointedly the “avoid-the-end” game, is to make sure they are still viable after the government frees up/reclaims spectrum for wireless broadband, which it wants to start doing ASAP, as FCC chief Julius Genachowski said last week.... » Full Story
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski Tuesday brought his call for moving swiftly to free up more wireless spectrum home to a roomful of big fans, the International CTIA show in Orlando, the wireless companies who have been pushing the FCC hard to make that happen. In his keynote speech, the chairman, using a tablet as a teleprompter, said it was like Tomorrowland had been moved from Disney World to the Orange County Convention Center. "Broadband is no longer a luxury," he said, and unleashing spectrum is a national priority. The broadband adoption rate is 67%, that is too low, he said, and the cost of the U.S.'s competitiveness could be severe. He said there were four key reasons why spectrum was atop the FCC's agenda: American competitiveness, opportunity, dollars, and the cost of delay.... » Full Story
House Republicans are pointing to the bipartisan support of their net-neutrality repeal effort — one of the most partisan issues before Energy and Commerce this year. The committee's top telecom leaders circulated a "Dear Colleague" letter on Monday with five names on it — two of them are Democratic Reps. Collin Peterson (Minn.) and Dan Boren (Okla.). The letter asks members to support a resolution that would repeal the net-neutrality regulations passed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in December. » Full Story
Juan Williams says NPR is an "all-white organization" that exhibited the "worst of white condescension" in its handling of his firing last year. In an interview with The Huffington Post, conducted before the most recent controversy surrounding an NPR executive's comments about the tea party (and CEO Vivian Schiller's ousting), Williams blasted the organization for its treatment of him. "I think when it comes to NPR's decision to, without any reason, throw me out the door, I think that for them, especially for some of the people who created NPR, it's an all-white operation," Williams said. He added that he thought NPR "felt they had never had much success" with black or Hispanic journalists, and that they had had "more success with white women." » Full Story
Not looking to waste any time, House Energy & Commerce Committee Republican leaders have scheduled a March 9 markup of their resolution (H.J. Res. 37) blocking the FCC's network neutrality rules. It will immediately follow a legislative hearing on the substance of the resolution scheduled for the same day. Marking up a bill consists of amending and voting on the bill in committee. Democrats last week had asked that the markup be postponed so the legislative hearing could be held. Republicans agreed, but have now said the postponement will only be a few hours.... » Full Story
The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the First Amendment protects fundamentalist church members who mount attention-getting, anti-gay protests outside military funerals. The court voted 8-1 in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan. The decision upheld an appeals court ruling that threw out a $5 million judgment to the father of a dead Marine who sued church members after they picketed his son's funeral. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion for the court. Justice Samuel Alito dissented. "What Westboro said, in the whole context of how and where it chose to say it, is entitled to 'special protection' under the First Amendment," Roberts wrote, "and that protection cannot be overcome by a jury finding that the picketing was outrageous." » Full Story
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told the National Religious Broadcasters convention Sunday (Feb. 27) that some members of Congress and "the federal bureaucracy" are still trying to reinstate "and even expand" the fairness doctrine. The fairness doctrine is the FCC policy - abandoned in 1987 as unconstitutional - that required broadcasters to seek out opposing viewpoints on issues of national importance. Boehner said in a speech to the convention that he expects the House to act on legislation that would make sure it was not revived. The doctrine's demise is credited with the rise of conservative talk radio.... » Full Story
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Sunday (Feb. 27) the House will act as early as March on a proposal to invalidate the FCC's network neutrality rules. He said the FCC has not been able to give Congress a straight answer to "explain the need for this intrusion." Those remarks came in a speech to the National Religious Broadcasters Sunday at its annual convention in Nashville. The commission voted Dec. 21 to expand and codify its Internet openness principles on a straight party line vote with strong Republican opposition. Republicans in the House have continued that strong opposition, including defunding the rule change as part of the stop-gap appropriations the House passed two weeks ago.... » Full Story
Four Senate Democrats wrote to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday to oppose GOP efforts to defund net neutrality rules through spending legislation. The letter included Senate Commerce Communications subcommittee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). "Telephone and cable companies do not own the Internet. But if [the anti-neutrality effort] is successful, they will," the letter said. The spending bill that passed the House on Saturday included language to prevent the FCC from using funds to implement its controversial net neutrality rules, which it passed in December over strong objections from Republicans.... » Full Story
The House of Representatives voted on Thursday to overturn proposed rules that bar Internet service providers from blocking legal content but give some discretion to ration access for bandwidth hogs. The vote -- which was spearheaded by Republican lawmakers determined to undo a range of Obama administration initiatives -- would block funds to implement rules proposed by the Federal Communications Commission in December. The measure was added as an amendment to a sweeping spending bill that will fund the government for the rest of the current fiscal year. To become law, the measure would also need to pass the Senate, where Democrats hold a majority, and get President Barack Obama's signature. No vote has been scheduled for the measure in the Senate.... » Full Story
House Republicans attacked new "net neutrality" rules for broadband Internet lines in a contentious hearing Feb. 16 and criticized Democratic Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski for adopting them. Republicans are targeting the new Internet rules, which would bar Internet providers from blocking or slowing Internet traffic and services, as one of many new regulations, including for health care and the environment, which they say are unnecessary and overly burdensome on industry. "Why would you put the government in charge of the Internet?" said Rep. Fred Upton (R., Mich.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Mr. Genachowski defended the new rules during the hearing, saying the FCC "did the right thing" and that it is "pro-job and pro-investment" for the U.S. economy.... "The FCC argues it can regulate anything if, in its opinion, doing so would encourage broadband deployment," Rep. Greg Walden (R., Ore.,) chairman of the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, said Wednesday. "I am relieved, however, that the FCC declined under its new found authority to regulate coffee shops, bookstores, airlines and other entities," he said.... » Full Story
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski plans to tell legislators at a House hearing Wednesday that the FCC's new network neutrality rules are a straightforward and sensible compromise on rules for the Internet road, hailed by marknet analysts as a light-touch approach to regulation, and one that insures that "law-abiding citizens can say what they want and go where they want online." He also suggests the route to those rules was open, well-traveled, adjusted after hearing from all sides, and a welcome signal of regulatory certainty to investors and innovators. » Full Story
Public broadcasters and their supporters fired back over the weekend following the release of a bill by the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee that would cut out its funding. The bill is the Republicans’ version of the continuing resolution that would keep the government operating but take $100 billion out of its budget, including all the funds for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting not already obligated to be spent. Public broadcasting gets about 15% of its funding from the government.... » Full Story
The House Communications Subcommittee has scheduled a hearing on the Federal Communications Commission's new net neutrality rules for Feb. 16, according to published reports. Committee chair, Rep. Chairman Greg Walden, (R-Ore.), along with Energy and Commerce Committee chair Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) have both said they'll lead the charge to block the rules from being adopted. Non-profit group Public Knowledge, meanwhile, has launched a campaign to protect the rules, asking members to contact their representatives in Congress and ask them to support the new regs.... » Full Story
Lawyers for Verizon today fired back at federal communications regulators, arguing in a Washington appeals court that the company's suit challenging newly promulgated Internet access rules is viable and should not be dismissed. Verizon's attorneys, including Wiley Rein partner Helgi Walker, filed court papers this morning in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit urging the court not to dismiss the company’s appeal. The litigation is focused on new Federal Communications Commission regulations governing how fixed and wireless Internet service providers control network access. The filing responds to the FCC's submission Friday that asked the appeals court to throw out the challenge on procedural grounds. FCC lawyers argue, among other things, Verizon’s appeal is premature since the order establishing new Internet access regulations hasn’t been published in the Federal Register.... » Full Story
Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) has introduced a bill, the Internet Freedom, Broadband Promotion, and Consumer Protection Act of 2011, that would create a new section under Title II of the Communications Act enshrining the FCC's six new network neutrality rules and applying them to wireless. Those were steps the FCC was not willing to take, at least not as part of its Dec. 21 vote to expand and codify its network neutrality guidelines. But the commission did apply transparency and site-blocking prohibitions to wireless as part of that vote, said it would revisit the wireless space down the road, and left open the possibility of reclassifying Internet access services under Title II, though it said it could justify its Title I ancillary authority. Cantwell was joined by co-sponsor Al Franken (D-Minn.).... » Full Story
President Barack Obama did not take long to get into the issue of contentious political debate in his State of the Union Speech, according to a copy of his "prepared for delivery" remarks. But the President also used the opportunity to tell parents it was their job to turn off the TV and make sure their kids get their work done, and for the U.S. to do a better job of deploying broadband, saying that "South Korean homes now have greater internet access than we do." He pledged that: "Within the next five years, we will make it possible for business to deploy the next
generation of high-speed wireless coverage to 98% of all Americans. This isn't just about a faster Internet and fewer dropped calls. It's about connecting every part of America to the digital age." He christened it the National Wireless Initiative.... » Full Story
Verizon Communications took the Federal Communications Commission to court on Thursday (Jan. 20) over its new Internet traffic rules, arguing the regulator had overstepped its authority. The filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia fulfilled the predictions of many industry analysts that the FCC's split vote last month to impose the rules would be swiftly challenged. Medley Global Advisors analyst Jeffrey Silva said there was a "reasonable chance" the court would strike down the rules that prevent network operators from blocking lawful content but still let them ration access to their networks.... » Full Story
According to a Jan. 18 backgrounder document on the "key issues" before the House Energy & Commerce Committee's Communications and Technology Subcommittee obtained by B&C, nullification of the FCC's network neutrality rules is high on the communications and technology agenda, as is looking into the "abuse of power and process" of the Comcast/NBCU transaction review. The document indicates that Republican Committee Chairman Fred Upton's strategy to block network neutrality rules the FCC approved Dec. 21 will be through a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act. That legislative gambit requires a simple majority in both chambers and can't be filibustered in the Senate, the document points out.... » Full Story
As expected, the Justice Department Jan. 18 followed the FCC in approving the Comcast/NBCU deal, contingent upon various agreements with the company, including that it will relinquish any management rights in Hulu. Technically, that approval consists of first filing suit against the deal, and then announcing the settlement agreement that, with conditions, makes it acceptable. Justice said the deal will "preserve new content distribution models that offer more products and greater innovation, and the potential to provide consumers access to their favorite programming on a variety of devices in a wide selection of packages." Justice's conditions on the deal mirror those of the FCC, according to an FCC source, which includes prohibiting Comcast from "unreasonably discriminating in the transmission of an OVD's lawful network traffic to a Comcast broadband customer." » Full Story
The FCC commissioners voted Jan. 18 to give the green light to Comcast to team up with NBC Universal in a $30-billion joint venture, according to two sources close to the commissioners. The vote was 4-1, with Commissioner Copps voting against it, providing a ringing dissent. A veteran media consolidation critic, Copps had all along said its approval was a very steep hill for him, and ultimately it proved too high for him to climb. As expected, the Justice Department followed the FCC in approving the Comcast/NBCU deal. The FCC was reviewing the deal for its impact on the public interest, while Justice focuses on competition issues. The FCC commissioners had been vetting a draft approval circulated last month, and made some edits, but sources say the draft is essentially the same. Comcast has signaled it could live with the conditions the FCC proposed.... » Full Story
The Federal Communications Commission's new "net neutrality" rules, passed on a partisan 3-2 vote yesterday, represent a huge win for a slick lobbying campaign run by liberal activist groups and foundations. The losers are likely to be consumers who will see innovation and investment chilled by regulations that treat the Internet like a public utility. There's little evidence the public is demanding these rules, which purport to stop the non-problem of phone and cable companies blocking access to websites and interfering with Internet traffic. Over 300 House and Senate members have signed a letter opposing FCC Internet regulation, and there will undoubtedly be even less support in the next Congress.... » Full Story
The FCC voted along strict party lines Tuesday (Dec. 21) to adopt regulations on Internet access. The meeting was characterized by cordial delivery of scathing dissents by the Republicans and a less-than enthusiastic concurrence by swing vote Michael Copps, who said he had seriously considered dissenting before concluding it was at least a first step in the right direction. Republican commissioners said the order would be overturned by the courts, as the FCC's BitTorrent ruling had been. The rules prevent Internet service providers from discriminating against content and applications, subject to reasonable network management, and will enforce that on a case-by-case basis with what FCC officials have said will be a fast-track complaint process. Providers must tell consumers how they are managing their networks.... » Full Story
FCC Republicans are solidly against the network neutrality proposal. Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker said the FCC should not take any action before the new Congress convenes (in January) and even then only after it gets the go-ahead from that Congress. "This is a mistake," she said in a statement. "We do not have authority to act. The new majority of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce has asked the Commission not to circulate this Order, and a clear majority of all Members of Congress has expressed concern with our Internet policies. Whether the Internet should be regulated is a decision best left to the directly elected representatives of the American people." Throwing a couple of rhetorical punches at the chairman's proposal, she said it would be "reckless and inappropriate for the Commission to act upon the Chairman's controversial and partisan proposal." » Full Story
WASHINGTON—The top U.S. telecommunications regulator endorsed the use of metered-broadband Internet pricing Wednesday as he formally unveiled proposed rules to prevent Internet providers from interfering with traffic. Julius Genachowski, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, said the rules would "preserve the freedom and openness of the Internet" by providing more transparency, requiring basic no-discrimination rules for Internet providers. The rules would bar Internet providers from deliberately tampering with legal Internet traffic and would provide some limited protections for wireless Internet users. Mr. Genachowski said he was putting the rules up for a Dec. 21 vote. » Full Story
Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) is circulating a memo this week illustrating his conservative credentials with a pledge to forestall the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) net-neutrality ambitions. Upton is a front-runner in the heated battle to chair the Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over telecom policy. He is running against colleagues who have positioned him as too centrist, including Reps. Joe Barton (R-Texas), John Shimkus (R-Ill.) and Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.). In a memo obtained by The Hill, Upton pushes back on questions about his conservative credentials. He lays out an agenda for the powerful committee, strongly emphasizing Republican goals.... » Full Story
When Sam Keller, a former quarterback at Arizona State, sued the video game publisher Electronic Arts last year, he was seeking compensation for himself and other college athletes whose names were not used but whose images he contended were being illegally used by the company. But to the media conglomerates, athletes, actors, First Amendment advocates and others who have recently weighed in on the case, Keller’s lawsuit is about much more than video games. The outcome of a recent appeal filed by Electronic Arts, their lawyers say, could rewrite the rules that dictate how much ownership public figures have over their images — and the extent to which outside parties, including media and entertainment companies — can profit from them.... » Full Story
For the tech and telecom industries, the loss of Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) to Republican Morgan Griffith in midterm elections Tuesday creates legislative uncertainty. With nearly three decades in office, Boucher has become a veteran voice on policy issues as chairman of the House Communications, Technology and Internet subcommittee. In the past year, he introduced Internet privacy legislation that balances business interests in data collection with requirements that companies get voluntary approval from users before collecting the most sensitive information. He supported net neutrality and co-sponsored a bill to reform a $7 billion rural farm program. » Full Story
Every House and Senate candidate who signed a pledge to support net-neutrality rules lost his or her election on Tuesday, according to an analysis by Scott Cleland, a net-neutrality opponent. Ninety-five Democrats signed the pledge, released last week. It was organized by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC). The pledge said signers would support strong net-neutrality rules on wireless and wired broadband networks. » Full Story
Washington — The Supreme Court debated sex, violence and free speech Tuesday, as several justices strongly argued for breaking new ground and upholding a California law that would forbid the sale of violent video games to those under age 18. "Why isn't it common sense," said Justice Stephen G. Breyer, that if the law can forbid selling pictures of a "naked woman" to a young teen, it can also forbid the sale of scenes "of gratuitous torture of children" in a video game? Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. agreed, citing scenes from the game Postal 2 in which girls are smashed in the face with a shovel and their bodies set on fire. "We don't have a tradition in this country" of exposing children to that kind of graphic violence, he said. But in a case that seemed to break the usual liberal-conservative alliances, Justice Antonin Scalia clashed with Roberts and Breyer and argued that the 1st Amendment's protection for freedom of speech has never been applied to restrict violence in the media. » Full Story
In a dramatic move, Rep. Henry Waxman on Sept. 29 said the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) should use its power to regulate Internet service providers. Waxman’s (D-Calif.) decision, which came after Republicans said they could not support legislation he was drafting, could change the debate over a cornerstone of President Obama’s policies on technology and the Internet. The move by the powerful chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee gives political cover to the FCC to move forward with “reclassification” of Internet services, which could place cable- and telephone-company broadband businesses under certain telephone strictures. » Full Story
Disagreements in a leading coalition of Internet companies are preventing the organization from supporting net-neutrality legislation that House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (Calif.) may introduce, sources said late Tuesday. Several people with knowledge of the group said leading voices in the Open Internet Coalition (OIC) hoped to support the bill as it was developed this month, but a lack of consensus was clear as the latest drafts arose. As of Tuesday night, the coalition had decided that it is not supporting or working against the legislation, they said. The Open Internet Coalition (OIC) provided input to congressional staff as the legislation developed, along with consumer advocates, phone and cable companies. OIC includes Internet companies with a variety of interests, including Google, IAC, Amazon, Facebook, Skype and many others. It also includes consumer groups. » Full Story
The latest version of the House net neutrality bill will take away the FCC's rulemaking authority on the issue, a source familiar with the matter told Tech Daily Dose. Without rulemaking authority on the possible legislation, the commission's ability to enforce compliance is substantially weakened. The bill would also prohibit the commission from reclassifying broadband under title II of the Communications Act, a more stringent regulatory regime, until the measure sunsets in two years. Other provisions of the proposal include a non-discrimination principle for wired networks and for wireless devices, no blocking of websites and competing voice applications. » Full Story
The FCC is issuing a public notice to "improve the FCC's understanding of business broadband needs," calling it the "next step" advancing the FCC's small business broadband agenda. It is also the agenda of the Obama administration. Vice President Joe Biden has been something of an evangelist for the power of broadband to turn small businesses into global ones, in the process creating and saving jobs and boosting competitiveness. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced the notice in a speech Sept. 14 to a meeting with eBay's top online sellers. » Full Story
While the FCC and the White House have both remained relatively mum on Google and Verizon's proposal, former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell discussed net neutrality and the two companies' "open Internet" policy framework on Fox Business yesterday. Powell, appointed to the FCC by President Clinton and made chairman of the FCC by President George W. Bush, weighed in on the controversial Google and Verizon framework that critics argue could create a tiered Internet and be "the end of the Internet as we know it." » Full Story
The American Cable Association says that reclassifying broadband as a Title II service will have immediate and significant economic impact on the small and mid-sized cable/telecom companies it represents. That came in reply comments filed late Thursday (Aug. 13) at the commission. ACA argued that while the other side of the Title II debate is frequently characterized as corporate behemoths and big phone companies, the impact would be just as great on its members and arguably more so given their relatively smaller size. » Full Story
NCTA to FCC: First, Do No Harm
The National Cable & Telecommunications Association says the FCC should adopt a sort of Hippocratic oath for broadband – above all, do no harm – and that applying common carrier regs to Internet access would definitely violate it. In reply comments filed Aug. 13 with the FCC, NCTA says that if there is one conclusion that should be drawn from initial comments on the FCC's proposed "third way" Title II reclassification of Internet access service, it is that it would be a "very bad idea" to impose the full force of those regs. » Full Story
Seven Republican senators have announced a plan to curb the Obama administration's push to impose controversial Net neutrality regulations on the Internet. On July 21, Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina and six other GOP senators introduced legislation that would dramatically limit the Federal Communications Commission's ability to regulate broadband providers. "The FCC's rush to takeover the Internet is just the latest example of the need for fundamental reform to protect consumers," DeMint said in a statement. Without this legislation, DeMint said, the FCC will "impose unnecessary, antiquated regulations on the Internet." » Full Story
The FCC has been under intense political and industry pressure ever since Congress directed the agency to come up with a National Broadband Plan to guide the modernization and expansion of broadband Internet access in the United States. The White House is stepping in, though, to support the FCC plan and proceed with freeing up unused frequency spectrum for use in expanding wireless broadband. » Full Story
For almost two decades the U.S. government has kept its meddlesome mudhooks off the Internet, freeing it to spread its kudzu-like tendrils into the global economy. And it worked. The FCC took a big step this week to end all of that. For the first time, the Federal Communications Commission proposes using a set of 75-year-old phone regulations to oversee the Net of the 21st century and have a say in the prices that companies like AT&T and Comcast can charge. And set rules for what traffic they must carry. (Comcast is acquiring a 51 percent stake in NBC Universal, CNBC’s parent company. The deal is awaiting regulatory approval.) » Full Story
Federal regulators are reconsidering the rules that govern high-speed Internet connections - wading into a bitter policy dispute that could be tied up in court for years. The Federal Communications Commission is scheduled to vote Thursday (June 17) to begin taking public comments on three different paths for regulating broadband. That includes a proposal by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, a Democrat, to define broadband access as a telecommunications service subject to "common carrier" obligations to treat all traffic equally.... » Full Story
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski defended his plan to regulate Internet service providers as a Republican lawmaker said he would attempt to block the effort. Genachowski wants the FCC to assert jurisdiction over Web-access providers using rules imposed on telephone companies. His proposal is a reaction to a U.S. court ruling in April that said the agency lacked authority to regulate companies that provide Web access.... » Full Story
Google Inc., AT&T Inc., and Verizon Communications Inc. have begun plans for a group that will provide advice to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission and other government agencies on ways to manage the Internet. The Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group says its aim is to educate lawmakers about network management and other technical issues that can affect Web performance, the organization said in a statement.... » Full Story
When the route you've picked doesn't take you where you want to go, it's always best to figure out where you took a wrong turn, or reprogram your GPS. That's advice the Federal Communications Commission would do well to heed. After having been prodded by misguided "net neutrality" advocates, the FCC continues on a course that will hamper the development of the Internet, potentially harming job growth, innovation, investment and further network build-out, which could ultimately lead to increased costs that hurt the consumers it means to help.... » Full Story
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in an interview with bloggers Tuesday that she supports the Federal Communications Commission's plan to redefine broadband as a telecommunications service, according to the blog Fire Dog Lake, The Seminal. "Reclassification, net neutrality, universal access for every American, these are priorities for us. And we see it not in isolation but as part of a new prosperity, as a job creator, to make America healthier, smarter and an international leader," Pelosi said, according to left-leaning site.... » Full Story
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is being urged to monitor "hate speech" on talk radio and cable broadcast networks. A coalition of more than 30 organizations argue in a letter to the FCC that the Internet has made it harder for the public to separate the facts from bigotry masquerading as news. The groups also charge that syndicated radio and cable television programs "masquerading as news" use hate as a profit model.... » Full Story
The Federal Communications Commission moved aggressively last week to open a new round in the debate about the extent of its regulatory sway over the Internet. Until this month, the Commission had never claimed a sweeping and specific statutory right to regulate the Internet, because Congress has never provided it. Yet, when a federal court recently rejected FCC arguments that it has limited, "ancillary" authority to govern certain practices of the companies that operate the web - the FCC position under both President Clinton and President Bush – the current Commission doubled down.... » Full Story
The Federal Communications Commission's plan to impose Net neutrality regulations just became much more difficult to pull off. A bipartisan group of politicians on Monday told FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, in no uncertain terms, to abandon his plans to impose controversial new rules on broadband providers until the U.S. Congress changes the law. Seventy-four House Democrats sent Genachowski, an Obama appointee and fellow Democrat, a letter saying his ideas will "jeopardize jobs" and "should not be done without additional direction from Congress." » Full Story
By browsing through several dozen emails now being posted by a consumer group, anyone can read for himself the chummy chatter that has been occurring for the past year between a couple of senior Google officers and White House Deputy Chief Technology Officer Andrew McLaughlin, who headed Google's global public policy unit until assuming his current post in May 2009.... » Full Story
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-MD, have introduced legislation to gut the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision protecting the free speech rights of citizens when organized into groups such as labor unions, corporations and trade associations. Beyond the reporting of group expenditures, the Schumer and Van Hollen bills, if enacted, would require the speech-chilling disclosure of individual contributors. » Full Story