Programmers are holding up Comcast's acquisition of Time Warner Cable and AT&T's merger with DirecTV because they don’t want 108 people from learning the details of their contracts with their distributors. The argument should be blown up from underneath them with a well-placed metaphoric landmine.
Numerous content companies have filed multiple objections, some complaining that specific individuals should be barred from viewing the contracts, some insisting that no one outside the FCC should be able to review the documents. Given the parties are at an impasse on this matter, the FCC is stopping its review clock.
The Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday named an outspoken Internet privacy expert, Ashkan Soltani, as its chief technologist in a move that signals the agency's focus on protecting consumers' online privacy. A computer scientist and technology researcher, Soltani has advised several leading news organizations in reporting on complex technical issues related to Internet privacy.
Eighty potential bidders have submitted applications to participate. Smaller carriers like Guam-based Docomo and Bluegrass Wireless have thrown their hats in the ring, but the ones to watch are AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and Dish, which needs a strong broadband play and thinks wireless will be the way to go.
“Why won't you give cable subscribers the same rights you're evidently giving broadband customers under the ‘CBS All Access’ plan?” Maybe because broadcasters will make much less money if viewers get to choose to pay for each of the major networks, because everyone expects that tens and tens of millions of viewers won’t.
Officials have refused to hand over dozens of German intelligence documents detailing the extent to which the country's spy agencies cooperated with their U.S. counterparts. Experts say the government's reluctance to fully inform Parliament stems from a fear that leaks could imperil the flow of intelligence from the U.S.
U.S. consumers might be paying less than they are for cable and Internet access if regulators had followed the guidance of Jean Tirole in promoting industry competition. U.S. regulators didn't follow Tirole's advice to require cable and phone companies to sell competitors access to last mile connections.
Comcast has hired Judy James as its new director of government affairs for the North Bay area of its California footprint. She will be responsible for Comcast's local government affairs and policy issues in the Napa, Sonoma, North Solano, Marin, and Mendocino areas.
Dish has signed agreements with Northstar Wireless and SNR Wireless, two companies in which it has indirect ownership, to bid on AWS-3 spectrum. AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon will also bid. Sprint will not participate in this auction, but instead save its strength for next year’s Incentive Auctions.
Live From The Show: SCTE CEO Mark Dzuban on the organization’s Corporate Alliance Program, and its Energy 2020 program (which concentrates on developing best practices and technologies that will help the cable industry manage its energy consumption), and other issues.
The FCC has revived an obscure complaint by Sky Angel against Discovery. If the FCC changes policy in favor of Sky Angel, online providers would have the same ability to negotiate for carriage of local broadcast TV stations that cable and satellite TV providers have.
The blackout rule was put in place at a time when attendance was still the major source of revenue for most professional teams. In the decades since, ticket sales have been reduced to a minority percentage of proceeds. In the NFL especially, teams’ revenue from the sale of TV rights has far exceeded income at the gate.
Should the company that supplies your Internet access be allowed to cut deals with online services such as Netflix, Amazon or YouTube to move their content faster? The FCC is tackling that question this fall after the public submitted a record 3.7 million comments on the subject.
In Perspective: Defining a problem is common engineering practice, but the approach is hardly limited to engineering. In the communications business, definitions have become weapons. Worse is when companies deliberately obfuscate definitions for competitive advantage.
Capital Currents: Sometimes the Internet becomes “sluggish,” but it’s impossible to know whether it’s due to congestion in the local access network, in a transit network, or at the server that stores the content. Traffic management procedures can be instituted by the content providers, by the transit network operators, and/or by the retail Internet access providers.
The media conglomerate controlled by Rupert Murdoch is joining the fray in Google's protracted European antitrust case, saying the technology company unfairly distorts competition. Robert Thomson, CEO of New York-based News Corp., says in a letter to the EU's antitrust authority that Google is "willing to exploit its dominant market position to stifle competition."
The Senate Commerce Committee has passed STAVRA, reauthorizing satellite TV broadcast of distant signals. One of the few non-satellite provision retained prevents local TV stations from colluding when negotiating retransmission consent contracts with cable operators.
A set of technology vendors have come out firmly against reclassification of broadband as a Title II service. The suppliers delivered a letter to U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker insisting that classifying the Internet as a public utility would have harmful implications for the Internet and the economy.
Google has agreed to pay full refunds totaling at least $19 million to consumers who were charged for purchases that children made via apps without parental consent from the Google Play app store. The settlement is part of the third case by the Federal Trade Commission about unauthorized in-app purchases made by children. It settled with Apple for $32.5 million in January.
FCC chairman Tom Wheeler yesterday stated flatly that in too much of the U.S., there is no meaningful broadband competition, and that competitors are lagging behind public need. If enough people accept his propositions, Wheeler would then be able to justify reclassifying broadband as a communications service.
As the celebrity photo-hacking scandal has made clear, privacy isn't what it used to be. Whether famous or seemingly anonymous, people from all walks of life put all sorts of things online or into cloud-based storage systems, from vital financial information to the occasional nude photo. Periodic cases of hacking fuel outrage, but there's no retreat from digital engagement or any imminent promise of guaranteed privacy.
The movement to make cable CPE more energy-efficient has paid off, saving U.S. cable customers as much as $168 million in total on their energy bills. New set-top boxes use approximately 14 percent less energy than those previously used by service providers.
UC Irvine professor Scott Jordan was named the new CTO of the FCC. For those who try to read tea leaves, Jordan’s appointment might be a signal that FCC chairman Tom Wheeler is serious about exploring the possibility of reclassifying broadband as a telecommunications service.
VIDEO: Senate Republicans are promoting the notion of making local stations a la carte on cable networks with a new YouTube video. The idea has the potential for gaining bipartisan support, even in this bitterly divided Congress, as a consumer-friendly and nearly pure free-market solution.
Fitbit, a company that makes wearable devices that monitor fitness activity, says it's changing its practice of selling users' personal data to advertisers after concerns were raised about consumer privacy. The San Francisco-based company's move comes after U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer of New York asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate what he called a troubling policy.