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The Big Chill: Government and Journalism

April 2010

Genachowski: FCC Should Not Dictate Programming

The FCC will be an "active partner" in supporting public media as one response to a crisis in journalism, says FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, but he also said that "this agency cannot and should not dictate programming."  Saying that whatever the FCC does, it must be "in the full spirit of the First Amendment," the chairman added that "nothing should ever be done to hobble the independence of the press." » Full Story

Media Institute Reminds FCC To Consider First Amendment

In comments filed with the Federal Communications Commission May 7, The Media Institute urged the Commission to be mindful of the First Amendment as it considers ways to involve itself in the future of media.  » Full Story

Genachowski Vows To Continue Net Neutrality Push

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski pledged to keep the faith when it comes to taking steps to ensure network neutrality, court case or no.  At opening remarks for an open internet field hearing in Seattle, Wash., the chairman pointed out that it was only down the road a piece in Hillsboro, Ore., that Comcast's secret blocking of "lawful Internet traffic" was discovered.  » Full Story

NAB’s Smith: No Deal With FCC Chairman On Spectrum Plan

National Association of Broadcasters President Gordon Smith took to the Hill Tuesday (April 27) to defend broadcasters' spectrum and clear up at least one point at a Senate Small Business Committee broadband oversight hearing. » Full Story

Genachowski: Transforming USF Funds, Freeing Spectrum Keys to Small Business Development

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said transforming the Universal Service Fund into a broadband fund and freeing up spectrum so that mobile wireless is available everywhere are keys to getting the benefits of broadband to small businesses.  That was his message to the Senate Small Business Committee at a broadband oversight hearing Tuesday (April 27).  » Full Story

Free Press: Chairman Has 'Hemmed, Hawed and Hedged' on Broadband Reclassification

Free Press is putting a full-court press on the FCC to try to get it to move quickly to establish its network management and network neutrality regulatory powers.  Saying FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski was dodging questions about how the agency will proceed, Free Press has started a clock  (almost 21 days and counting) ticking off the time since the April 6 BitTorrent decision in the D.C. federal appeals court.  » Full Story

NCTA Asks FCC Not To Regulate Provision of Internet Access Services

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association has asked the FCC not to regulate the provision of Internet access services, period, echoing its call for "vigilant restraint."  NCTA says that classifying broadband as a Title II telecommunications service is "unsustainable" as a matter of either law or policy, that the FCC should not expand its openness principles to include transparency or nondiscrimination, saying that would be costly and counterproductive, and that any rules it does apply should be applied to wireless ISPs and application providers. » Full Story

FCC Forms Intra-agency Spectrum Task Force

The FCC has created an intra-agency spectrum task force to promote its goal of reclaiming spectrum for wireless broadband.  The task force will include the chiefs of the Enforcement, International, Media, and Public Safety and Homeland Security bureaus, and the Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis.... » Full Story

Chamber of Commerce, Manufacturers Oppose Title II Reclassification

Groups representing broadband business and tech interests have one piece of advice for the FCC: Don't rush to reclassify broadband under Title II.  That was the word from The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), and Tech America.  The first two are opposed to Title II reclassification, period, but Tech America says it is not ready to take that step.  » Full Story

FCC Has Timing Problem With Spectrum Plans

When it comes to the FCC’s spectrum reclamation plans — the biggest issue facing broadcasters in Washington — you might say the commission is ready to reap.  Congress, however, is putting up a strong warning that the FCC can’t start the harvest till it has taken account of the vast MHz bumper crop — a process that could take years.  It is a major disconnect, with the commission facing its own broadband policy version of a spectrum crunch.  » Full Story

County Executives of America Plans To Create National Wireless
Broadband Network

Commercial ISPs will have to compete with free service nationwide if a group of county chief executives has its way.  The County Executives of America (CEA), an association of over 700 member counties across the country, said Monday (April 26) it plans to create a nationwide wireless broadband network to provide free service to residents using AWS-3 spectrum held by the FCC.  It has applied for $122 million in broadband stimulus bucks to launch the network in a dozen counties to start with.  » Full Story

Mobile Future: Proposed Net Neutrality Regs Put Damper on Broadband
Jobs, Revenue

Mobile Future, a group pushing for marketplace, rather than government, spurs to broadband deployment and adoption, says proposed net neutrality regulations will put a damper on jobs and revenue in the broadband sector.  That is according to a study by Brattle Group economist Coleman Bazelon and paid for by the group.  » Full Story

McDowell: BitTorrent Decision Is 'Big Problem' for Net Neutrality Rulemaking

FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell told reporters Friday (April 23) in a press briefing that it is "a myth" that broadband net access services were once regulated as a Title II Telecommunications service, and that the FCC would get overturned in court if it tried to classify it as such now.  That observation came in a press briefing with reporters at the FCC headquarters in Washington.  » Full Story

Genachowski, Strickling, Adelstein Among Witnesses for Broadband
Planning Hearing

The Senate Small Business Committee has lined up an all-star panel of witnesses for its hearing April 27 on the impact of the national broadband plan and stimulus funding on small business owners.  » Full Story

FCC Launches Broadband Plan Rulemakings and Inquiries

The FCC launched its broadband plan proposed rulemakings and inquiries Wednesday (April 21) with a number of proposals including reforming universal service.  The broadband plan was issued on March 16, and an agenda was crafted two weeks ago. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski called it unprecedented in ambition and transparency and an aggressive roadmap for executing on key recommendations.  » Full Story

Boucher Echoes Free Press Criticisms of FCC Deployment Figures

Rick Boucher (D-Va.), chair of the House Communications & Internet Subcommittee, has commended the FCC for its national broadband plan.  He said the FCC had done a "truly outstanding job" sifting through the comments and coming up with a strategy.  But he also said he was worried the plan does not accurately reflect broadband deployment.  » Full Story

Donovan Says Spectrum Reclamation Could Pose Problems for Cable Ops

Broadcasters' top spectrum lobbyist says the FCC's broadcast spectrum reclamation proposal could pose problems for cable operators as well.  David Donovan, who heads the Association for Maximum Service Television, told an American Cable Association audience Tuesday (April 20) in Washington that reclaiming 120 MHz of spectrum from broadcasters, as the FCC is proposing, would mean another big move of channels. » Full Story

Levin: Migration to Net Video Could Be Foreseen as Inevitable

Top broadband plan advisor Blair Levin suggested Tuesday (April 20) that it was foreseeable back in the mid-1990's -- when he was at the FCC under then Chairman Reed Hundt -- that the Internet was going to supplant broadcasting and traditional cable video service.  "In 1994, you could envision as inevitable the Internet replacing existing platforms for communications and entertainment," he said in a speech to the American Cable Association policy summit in Washington.  "And based on numerous metrics, that transformation is well underway," he said.  » Full Story

Free Press: Broadband Deployment Plan Demands Better Data

Free Press Research Director Derek Turner plans to tell the House Communications Subcommittee that the broadband deployment figures in the FCC's national broadband plan are "suspect," probably overstate deployment in rural America, and suggests the FCC's deployment strategy is based on a "house of cards."  » Full Story

House To Drill Down Into Broadband Plan’s ‘Availability Gap’

Look for the FCC to get a lot more oversight of its national broadband plan (NBP) from the House Subcommittee on Communications, according to a memo sent to Democratic staffers that circulated last Friday (April 16).  The briefing memo, for an April 21 hearing ... says that hearing is one of "a series of hearings on specific proposals in the NBP" the subcommittee is teeing up....  » Full Story

FCC Makes NAB a ‘Voluntary’ Offer It Can’t Refuse

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said almost all the right things to attendees gathered in Las Vegas last week for the National Association of Broadcasters show. But between that “almost” and some kind of full understanding of the FCC’s ultimate plans for broadcasting, a gulf of 120 MHz of spectrum—and unanswered questions—remains....  » Full Story

House Communications Subcommittee Schedules
Broadband Plan Hearing for April 21

The House Energy & Commerce Committee's Communications Subcommittee has scheduled a hearing on the National Broadband Plan for April 21 at 10:00 a.m.  » Full Story

Blair Levin Exiting FCC for Aspen Institute

The FCC's broadband plan advisor, Blair Levin, will exit the commission May 7 to join the Aspen Institute as a Communications & Society Fellow, according to the chairman's office.  Levin shepherded the plan through its unveiling last month, but had always said it was a short-term posting.  » Full Story

Largent Says NAB's Smith Focused on
Misinterpreted ‘Threats’ to Broadcasters

The president of the wireless industry association says National Association of Broadcasters President Gordon Smith has "focused on a 'misinterpretation' of 'threats' to the broadcasting industry from the FCC's broadband plan."  That plan proposes freeing up 120 MHz from the broadcast band by 2015 and auctioning it for wireless broadband.  » Full Story

Genachowski Won't Rule Out Finding
Broadband Authority Under Title I

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski did not say whether he supports classifying broadband service as a Title II telecommunications service to clarify the FCC's authority over insuring an open and accessible Internet, but he said he does not agree that the commission lacks authority under the Title I information services regulatory regime broadband is currently regulated under.  That came in a Senate Commerce Committee hearing Wednesday on the national broadband plan.  » Full Story

RTDNA: 400 Local Newspeople Lost Jobs in 2009

According to a just-released survey from the Radio-Television Digital News Association, 400 local TV newspeople lost their jobs in 2009, or about 1.5% of the workforce.  The good news is that is down dramatically from 2008 cuts and the majority of news execs are predicting no more cuts in the near term.  At about the same time the study was released, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski was arguing that public media was becoming even more important with the hard times that had hit commercial news media.  » Full Story

Rockefeller Urges Broadband Action

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) Wednesday criticized the FCC's National Broadband Plan, calling it long on vision and short on tactics.  That came in an oversight hearing on the national broadband plan in the committee April 14.  » Full Story

Boucher: Broadband Plan Should Not
Force Broadcasters Off Spectrum

House Communications Subcommittee Chairman Rick Boucher (D-Va.) took the opportunity of a public sidebar discussion on the House floor with Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) to make it clear he doesn't want any part of the FCC's broadband plan to include forcing broadcasters off their spectrum.  » Full Story

Blackburn Decries FCC's Net Neutrality Push,
Calls It ‘Naked Power Grab’

It was a case of dueling legislators April 14 as the Senate Commerce Committee prepared to quiz FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski on the national broadband plan.  While committee member Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) was asking Web surfers to tell their senators they were passionate about network neutrality and backed the FCC majority on the issue, house Energy & Commerce Committee member Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) was taking to the Tennessean newspaper and Web site to decry the commission's "naked power grab disguised by the warm and fuzzy term 'net neutrality.'" » Full Story

Kerry Calls On Blog-Followers To Push
Net Neutrality To His Colleagues

On the eve of Wednesday's (April 14) Senate Commerce Committee oversight hearing on the FCC's national broadband plan, committee member and Communications Subcommittee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) has called on readers of the Daily Kos and Huffington Post blogs to contact their senators in support of network neutrality.  Senators do not usually call for flooding congressional switchboards, but the network neutrality debate has always been a heated one. » Full Story

Genachowski to NAB: Spectrum Auctions Are Voluntary – Period

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski used his keynote speech at the NAB Show in Las Vegas April 13 to pitch the FCC's spectrum reclamation plans as a compromise between taking all 300 MHz from broadcasters and doing nothing, as well as to counter what he said was disinformation about the commission's national broadband plan.  Genachowski said that the incentive auctions for broadcast spectrum would be entirely voluntary, that it would not take many stations' participation to get the 120 MHz in mostly urban markets that the FCC needs, that broadcasters would be able to set their own floor price for their spectrum, and that he is confident the FCC will not have to go to a plan B necessitated by not getting enough spectrum the first time around.  [Full story at]

Broadcast News Execs Say Industry Headed in Wrong Direction

News executives have major concerns about any government or public interest group funding of news operations, and a majority of broadcast news execs think journalism is going in the wrong direction.  Those are among the key findings from a just-released PEW Research Center/Project For Excellence in Journalism study.  The study, conducted in conjunction with the American Society of News Editors (ASNE) and the Radio-Television Digital News Association (RTDNA), found that 75% of news execs surveyed have "serious reservations" about government subsidies, and even more (78%) have "significant resistance" to funding from interest groups.  About 50% have problems with government tax credits, and a third have doubts about accepting private donations.  The full study is available here:

FCC Extends Reply Comment Deadline on Net Neutrality

The FCC has extended the reply comment deadline to April 26 on its network neutrality proposed rulemaking to give all interested parties a chance to ponder the BitTorrent decision.  The deadline had been April 8, but CTIA: The Wireless Association, the U.S. Telecom Association, and the Open Internet Coalition asked the commission to move the deadline to allow "all interested parties to evaluate and consider the legal implications of" the D.C. Circuit's April 6, 2010 decision in Comcast Corp. v. FCC."  It is the second extension for the replies, which had been due March 5 before the FCC moved them the first time.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on April 6 overturned the FCC's order finding Comcast in violation of its Internet openness guidelines.

D.C. Appeals Court Vacates FCC’s BitTorrent Decision

The U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. has vacated the FCC's BitTorrent decision.  The court concluded that the commission did not sufficiently establish its ancillary authority over Comcast's network management practices.  The decision could prompt the commission to reclassify Internet service under phone service regulations to establish authority to enforce Internet openness as it prepares to codify its network neutrality guidelines.  “Because the commission has failed to tie its assertion of ancillary authority over Comcast's Internet service to any ‘statutorily mandated responsibility,' we grant the petition for review and vacate the Order," the court ruled.  The FCC had argued that it had the authority to take action against Comcast for "covertly interfering" with BitTorrent peer-to-peer traffic in violation of Internet openness principles – and doing so in an adjudicatory proceeding rather than a rulemaking.

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