Legislation and Regulation

Groups nationwide urge FCC to support media diversity

On Wednesday, more than 50 civil rights, public interest and grassroots organizations sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission and congressional leaders supporting Mark Lloyd, the associate general counsel and chief diversity officer of the FCC, and the agency's longstanding mission to promote localism, diversity and competition in the media.

In recent weeks, Mr. Lloyd has been unfairly attacked on cable TV and radio talk shows with false and misleading information about his role and responsibilities at the FCC. A respected scholar and public servant, Lloyd was hired by the agency to expand media opportunities for women, people of color, small businesses, and those living in rural areas.

The full text of the letter and a list of signatories is below.

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Connected Nation--one link to derail new broadband policy

Art Brodsky, Connected Nation

Starting this week (Sept. 10), the House Telecom Subcommittee is going to start looking at the broadband stimulus program and, perhaps next week, examine how the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is doing under the new management. The national broadband plan, required under the Federal stimulus program, should also be a topic of discussion when the Subcommittee holds an oversight hearing.

It would be a shame if the stimulus mapping/grant program and the broadband plan were considered in isolation, because they are, together, pieces of the same puzzle. Certainly the telephone and cable industries are considering them together, and using the leverage on one to influence the other to reach the inevitable conclusion that no new broadband policies are needed and that everything will be just fine if we leave the companies in control. Ignore our slumping world rankings for broadband. Ignore the lack of choice. Let’s try to connect the dots into a long silver thread.

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Appeals court strikes down caps on cable companies' size

Frank Ahrens, Washington Post

Comcast, the nation's largest cable television provider, can grow bigger if it wants to after a federal court decision Friday that tossed out a rule preventing cable companies from controlling more than 30 percent of the U.S. market.

The rule, set by the Federal Communications Commission in 1993, has been in legal challenge nearly since its inception, with cable companies arguing that it was unconstitutional and the FCC and some consumer advocates saying it was necessary to prevent one company from controlling the market and gouging consumers. The FCC imposed the cap after Congress passed the 1992 Cable Act, which said the agency must set "reasonable limits" on the number of customers a cable company can have.

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iPhone center stage as FCC looks at wireless Internet

Richard Koman, ZNet

Look for major action from the FCC against Apple/AT&T on the iPhone, as well as other exclusive wireless deals. USA Today reports that the FCC will discuss at its regular meeting Thursday a three-part probe:

  1. Wireless competition;
  2. Barriers to entry and investment
  3. consumer billing, including wireless contracts
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Commerce Dept acquiesces to telecoms on datasecrecy

Fawn Johnson, Dow Jones

The U.S. Commerce Department said Friday it agreed to drop a request for sensitive revenue and infrastructure data from telecom carriers as part of an Internet mapping project that will spur President Barack Obama's goal of blanketing the country with high-speed broadband.

The agency released a clarification Friday of its data requirements.

The agreement comes about a week after a wide-ranging group of telecom associations complained that the Commerce Department was seeking sensitive and irrelevant information.

The deal also resolves a potential standoff between the government and carriers that probably would sue rather than turn over revenue numbers about their Internet subscribers.

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Connected Nation's other shoe drops at NTIA

Art Brodsky, Public Knowledge

It seems like only yesterday that we were saying that a game of chicken was likely to develop between the government and the telecom industry over the data that is supposed to be reported under the stimulus broadband mapping program. Actually, it was the day before yesterday.

But never mind that, it seems the day after that story was published, a group of telecom executives huddled with Larry Strickling, director of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to express their concerns about the data that is supposed to be reported under the stimulus broadband mapping program.

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Wired in Washington: less than perfect

David Hatch, National Journal

It's going to be a long, hot summer for FCC officials tasked with creating a national broadband plan. During August alone, when choosing the best iron to reach the green or weighing whether to salt a margarita glass pass for tough decisions in Washington, the agency has scheduled 19 public workshops designed to assist with crafting the ambitious strategy.

As part of the economic stimulus program enacted by Congress this year, which included $7.2 billion to spur broadband deployment, the FCC was ordered to develop a comprehensive plan to connect every community and harness the Internet to create jobs, boost energy efficiency and improve health care.

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Former Adelstein aid leaves FCC for Comcast

[Comcast press release:] Comcast announced today two new senior hires in its Federal Government Affairs office in Washington, DC. Joe Trahern has joined the company as Senior Director of Federal Government Affairs, and effective July 27, Rudy Brioche joins the company as Senior Director of External Affairs and Public Policy Counsel. Trahern will serve as one of Comcast's senior lobbyists focused on Congress and the Administration, and Brioche will focus on the development of the company's public policy positions and legislative analysis.

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Clyburn and Baker confirmed for full FCC, Adelstein heads to RUS

Television Broadcast

The Senate has approved Mignon Clyburn and Meredith Attwell Baker for the Federal Communications Commission, giving the agency a full house for the first time since January, when former Chairman Kevin Martin stepped down. The approval was expected and came quickly after both nominees got the OK from the Senate Commerce Committee.

Clyburn, a former newspaper publisher and utility commissioner, becomes the third Democrat, after Michael Copps and Chairman Julius Genachowski. Atwell Baker joins Robert McDowell in holding up the GOP minority.

Simultaneously, Jonathan Adelstein was confirmed as head of the Ag Department's Rural Utilities Service division. He was nominated for the slot months ago but remained on the commission while the nominee confirmations were pending.

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Panel backs FCC nominations, sends to Senate

Reuters

The Senate Commerce Committee on Tuesday backed President Barack Obama's two nominations to the Federal Communications Commission.

In a voice vote, the committee sent the nominations of Mignon Clyburn, a Democrat, and Meredith Attwell Baker, a Republican, to the full Senate for consideration.

At a nomination hearing last week, Clyburn and Baker said they were committed to regulatory policies that would help consumers and promote competition in the telecommunications industry.

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