‘What’s Hot’ List: 11/14/14

‘What’s Hot’ List (11/14/14)

President Obama Backs Stronger Broadband Regulation in Big Win for Activists (Recode, 11/10/14) President Obama came out in favor of the FCC re-regulating broadband lines under rules written for phone networks when the agency adopts new net neutrality rules, in a major win for Internet activists. The White House released Obama’s net neutrality proposal Monday morning with a statement and video. While the president was careful to note that the FCC is an independent agency and can do what it wants, the announcement was clearly made to give FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and other FCC Democrats political cover to go for broke when adopting new rules over Internet lines.

Broadcasters Shoot First in Their Wireless Spectrum Auction Fight With the FCC (InTheCapital Streetwise Blog, 11/10/14) The National Association of Broadcasters and its allies have begun their legal assault on the FCC’s wireless spectrum auction rules. An opening brief sent the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday made it clear that this will not be a quick or easily resolved argument. At its heart, the first brief claims the FCC’s auction rules are unfair to TV stations that don’t want to sell their licenses to wireless carriers. The rules are supposed to let television stations maintain their coverage areas and viewers, but the NAB and its co-filer the Sinclair Broadcasting group say the FCC doesn’t give enough time for them to get off the air, calling the 39-month deadline “wildly unrealistic.”

The FCC won’t vote this year on net neutrality, after all (The Washington Post’s The Switch Blog, 11/11/14) The new war over net neutrality. “Obama’s announcement threw [Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom] Wheeler’s plans to write new rules by December into a tailspin,” Politico reports. “FCC officials confirmed that the year will pass without a commission vote on new rules.”

Boehner Kills Internet Sales Tax Bill (Rollcall.com, 11/10/14) Tax-free Internet shopping is safe for now thanks to Speaker John A. Boehner. A bill granting states the ability to force out-of-state websites to collect Internet sales tax is dead, according to the Ohio Republican’s spokesman.“The speaker has made clear in the past he has significant concerns about the bill, and it won’t move forward this year,” said spokesman Kevin Smith. “The Judiciary Committee continues to examine the measure and the broader issue. In the meantime, the House and Senate should work together to extend the moratorium on internet taxation without further delay.”

Netflix Applauds President’s Call for Title II (Multichannel News, 11/10/14) Netflix weighed in on President Obama’s request that the FCC reclassify broadband under Title II, and leading provider of streaming video services offered unsurprising support for it. “We applaud both the White House and the FCC’s efforts to keep the Internet open and free,” Netflix said in a statement. “Strong net neutrality rules will ensure Internet service providers don’t abuse their gatekeeper power by imposing tolls to reach their customers or establishing paid fast lanes. Consumers should decide winners and losers on the Internet, not broadband companies.”

 Yahoo Buys BrightRoll, a Video Ad Platform, for $640 Million (New York Times Bits Blog, 11/11/14) Yahoo’s chief executive, Marissa Mayer, is starting to spend the $6.3 billion that the Internet company netted from selling shares in Alibaba’s initial public offering. On Tuesday, Yahoo announced that it had agreed to acquire BrightRoll, a platform for selling and delivering video advertising, for $640 million in cash.

Ted Cruz just called net neutrality ‘Obamacare for the internet’ and that’s bad news for everyone (The Verge, 11/10/14) Republicans just dominated Democrats in the midterm elections, and by all popular accounts Obama may become one of the lamest lame ducks in history — the GOP simply hates the guy and it seems unlikely he’s going to get anything meaningful done before he leaves office. So we’re now entering the presidential “say whatever you want” phase, marked today by the president’s strong new stance on rigorous net neutrality regulation.

 At Painful Odds: Spectrum Auctions and Title II Reclassification (Bloomberg Law, 11/12/14) There are two areas of bipartisan consensus in Washington: Americans need an open Internet, and Americans need spectrum for mobile broadband. There is wrangling over the details, but the goals are clear. To its credit, the Federal Communications Commission is hard at work on both goals, and it has the opportunity to satisfy Americans’ needs in both areas. But it is under tremendous political pressure to choose a course that will satisfy neither.

The market response to regulating the Internet? Not good. (Fierce Wireless, 11/11/14) After several failed attempts to come up with a net neutrality proposal that reasonably addresses legal, industry and consumer advocate concerns around the optimal legal foundation for net neutrality, the FCC made public last week it wanted to pursue a new “hyrbrid” approach that would apply both Title II and Section 706 regulations on Internet providers.

Why the Public Utility Model Is the Wrong Approach for Internet Regulation (Harvard Business Review, 11/11/14) With President Obama’s announcement on Monday urging the FCC to regulate the Internet under a 1934 law that managed the old monopoly Bell system as a public utility, the net neutrality debate has officially descended to the ninth circle of hell.

Why Obama’s plan to save the Internet could actually ruin it (Washington Post, 11/11/14) On Monday, President Obama joined the chorus of those urging FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to inject federal and state regulators directly into the heart of the Internet, “reclassifying” wired and mobile broadband ISPs as public utilities under a 1934 law written to control the former Bell telephone monopoly.