Legislation and Regulation

FCC order upheld, could mean more broadband choices

Wendy Davis, Daily Online Examiner

It's no secret that broadband in the U.S. is slower and more expensive than in other countries -- and that's when it's available at all. Some rural residents lack high-speed Internet access altogether, or must purchase satellite service from companies like HughesNet, which was just sued last week for allegedly delivering sub-par speeds.

Even urban residents don't have all that many choices. Many have just two realistic options -- cable modem service or relatively slower DSL service.

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Obama adviser eyes government-built broadband system

David Hatch, Congress Daily

Officials have released an historic government plan to spend tens of billions of dollars constructing a nationwide, state-of-the-art broadband network featuring speeds 100 times faster than today's technology.

The new infrastructure would reach every citizen, delivering affordable connections at taxpayer-subsidized rates, boosting access to education and telemedicine. Proponents promise myriad opportunities for online businesses and enhancements to energy efficiency, media distribution and public safety.

Haven't heard about this yet? That's because the announcement was made last month in Australia.

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ISPs shouldn't stop the next Google from getting out of the garage

Cory Doctorow, The Guardian

If politicians want to effect economic recovery, national competitiveness, good public health and high civic engagement, they have a duty to keep the internet free and open. But politicians around the world seem willing to sacrifice their national interest to keep a few powerful phone and telcoms companies happy.

Take the Telcoms Package now before the EU: among other things, the package paves the way for ISPs and Quangos to block or slow access to websites and services on an arbitrary basis. At the same time, ISPs are instituting and enforcing strict bandwidth limits on their customers, citing shocking statistics about the bandwidth hogs who consume vastly more resources than the average punter.

Between filtering, fiddling connection speeds and capping usage, ISPs are pulling the rug out from under the nations that have sustained them with generous subsidies and regulation.

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Black radio owners worried about performance royalty bill

Chronic Magazine

As we listen to our favorite tunes on the way home, a storm is brewing around the future of black radio. Here’s the skinny. ….

The hot-button issue of whether radio should pay performance royalties to artists for playing their music has split Michigan Democrat John Conyers from some of his long-time allies in the civil rights movement. Following in the footsteps of satellite, cable and Internet music services, the Performance Rights Act would result in AM and FM radio stations paying performers to play their songs.

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Dems seek financial rescue of minority-owned broadcasters

Silla Brush, The Hill

High-ranking House Democrats are urging the Treasury Department to prop up minority-owned broadcasters suffering from a lack of capital and lost advertising revenue amid the economic slump.

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) is leading an effort to convince Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to take “decisive action” by extending credit to this sector of the broadcasting industry.

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FCC proposes expanded ownership reporting

Peter Gutmann, RBR.com

The FCC has released the text of its Report and Order that will change the timing of biennial ownership reporting and expand the scope to include gender and racial classification of most attributable owners of commercial broadcast stations. An accompanying Notice of Proposed Rulemaking may extend the requirements to noncommercial entities.

The Report and Order affirms the Commission’s commitment to implementing the Congressional mandate to promote business opportunities in broadcasting for women and minorities. Although it has been collecting gender and racial ownership data since 1998, the FCC seeks to improve the reliability of its data in order to foster diversity and to bolster any new policies against judicial challenge, should it choose to pursue more race- or gender-based approaches to remedy the “dismal” level of minority and female ownership that it perceives in the broadcast industry.

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Wyden calls for clarity on net neutrality

Matthew Lasar, Ars Technica

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) let it rip at the Computer & Communications Industry Association's Annual Washington Caucus on Wednesday.

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Free Press articulates public interest principles for broadband policy

John Eggerton, Broadcasting and Cable

In a report with the ambitious and somewhat ominous title of Dismantling Digital Deregulation: Toward a National Broadband Strategy, the open Internet advocate called for no less than a review of every FCC decision for the last decade-plus and its repeal if it did not promote broadband competition and openness.

Free Press said that should include codifying the FCC's access principles into network neutrality rules, and reclassifying broadband as a telecommunications service, which would allow for open access conditions to be imposed.

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Grading the Internet President

Those of us who focus on media and Internet policy were caught off guard in 2008 when a handful of presidential candidates started to talk about the media and not just through it.

The problem of the media was mentioned in stump speeches in Silicon Valley and Palm Beach, Florida, and on whistle stops in between. But the campaign rhetoric went beyond the standard refrain about media bias to real discussions about the policy reforms that we need to make American media, and especially the Internet, much better.

No one was more outspoken on the trail than then-candidate Barack Obama. Has President Obama lived up to his Internet and media campaign promises in his first 100 Days in office? Let's take a look.

Read more. Tim Karr, Huffington Post (Tim Karr/Huffington Post)

Court orders further review of FCC's Janet Jackson fine

Washington Post

The case of the "wardrobe malfunction" lives.

The Supreme Court told a lower court yesterday to reconsider its ruling that threw out a $550,000 fine against CBS for the split-second television broadcast of singer Janet Jackson's breast during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit said the Federal Communications Commission had not justified a change in policy that made the network culpable even though it said it had no idea a costume reveal had been planned.

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The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey