What’s Hot List 4.22.16

Net Neutrality Verdict Could Be Near (Wall Street Journal 4/15)

A verdict on the future of net neutrality could come down soon.

The Federal Communications Commission last year adopted a sweeping new plan requiring the equal treatment of Internet traffic. The rules immediately triggered a court challenge by the telecom industry, which says the FCC lacks the authority to impose utility-like regulations on broadband providers.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which heard arguments in December, is expected to weigh in soon with an opinion on net neutrality.

Netflix exploited a gaping loophole in net neutrality regulations (The Hill 4/19)

Netflix hasn’t looked this bad since the whole Qwikster fiasco.

The streaming video company recently admitted that is has been throttling data speeds for customers watching Netflix on Verizon and AT&T-powered devices. If you’re one of those unlucky Netflix subscribers, like me, and were wondering why your video stream wasn’t as glossy and smooth as it should have been, now you know the reason.

House Subcommittee Approves Lifeline Curb Act (Broadcasting & Cable 4/19)

A divided House Communications Subcommittee approved by a vote of 17 to 11 the CURB Lifeline Act (H.R. 4884) along with a handful of other communications-related bills.

Lifeline is the subsidy to low-income residents for advanced telecom, which the FCC is migrating from voice to broadband.

The Lifeline CURB Act caps the Lifeline fund at its current $1.5 billion annually—the FCC voted to increase the subsidy to $2.25 billion and even a Republican-backed compromise would have raised it to $2 billion.

Don’t let the FCC steal the future (The Hill 4/18)

The Internet is supposed to be the future for the creative community, offering vast new opportunities that more than make up for the “creative destruction” of traditional business models.

Well into 2016, it is fair to say that creative professionals have embraced the technological future.  Copyright creators license their copyrighted works to almost every conceivable kind of online service, thereby making possible successful and popular Internet services like Spotify, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Xbox Live.

FCC response to Sen. Cruz reveals hidden ICANN agenda in net neutrality order (The Hill 4/18)

It’s no secret that controversy has plagued the Obama Administration’s plan to surrender U.S. oversight of the Internet domain naming and numbering systems from the current U.S.-based ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) to the “global multistakeholder community.” But the reason the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) declined to exercise its statutory jurisdiction over Internet numbering inside the United States was indeed secret until Senator Ted Cruz forced the FCC to explain itself. Based on FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s response to Cruz in this Senate hearing record, it appears the FCC had previously omitted any mention of its statutory authority over Internet numbering in its net neutrality order in an effort to conceal the net neutrality order’s relationship to the ICANN controversy.

Senator floats investigation on FCC leaks (The Hill 4/18)

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) is asking the Federal Communications Commission to investigate any employee misconduct in the hours ahead of a hectic meeting last month, where the agency approved rules to offer Internet subsidies to low-income Americans.

Thune expressed concern that agency officials might have leaked nonpublic information in an attempt to thwart a last-minute agreement between three commissioners — two Republicans and one Democrat — to change FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposal ahead of the vote.

Verizon urges FCC not to adopt opt-in requirements for ISPs (Fierce Wireless 4/18)

Verizon met with FCC officials last week to urge them not to adopt rules that would require broadband providers to obtain their customers’ permission before using consumer data to send targeted ads.

The FCC voted earlier this month to move forward with proposed rules requiring ISPs to ask consumers to opt in to any sharing of their data with third parties, among other things. Those rules would apply to providers of both mobile and fixed-line broadband services, but not to Internet companies like Facebook or Google.

NAB 2016: O’Rielly Slams FCC’s ‘Black Box’ Proposal (Multichannel News 4/19)

Republican FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly took aim at the FCC’s proposal to unlock cable set-top boxes, saying the FCC was redefining terms in an effort to “to use government to artificially cheapen the value of video content.”

“In a speech at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas, O’Rielly said calling it a set-top box proposal was a misnomer and that it was actually all about the FCC “taking a 90’s regime and redefining all of its terms to let the Commission get its hooks into all of the new technology that has developed since then, outside of the Commission’s authority.”

The FCC and Kafkaesque Merger Reviews (Forbes- Commentary by Harold Furchtgott-Roth 4/19)

In May of 2015, Charter Communications announced the acquisition of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. The cable operators do not have overlapping systems, and many observers thought the proposal would be quietly and quickly approved.

Eleven months later, the deal has yet to be approved, quietly or not. The problem does not appear to be the potential for anticompetitive behavior. If that were the case, federal antitrust authorities would likely goohave challenged the proposed merger by now.

Former FCC Chief Economist Pans Set-Top Proposal (Multichannel News 4/20)

The FCC’s set-top box Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) is “likely to artificially distort competition to the detriment of consumers,” according to former FCC chief economist Steven Wildman.

That is according to a new paper commissioned by the National Cable & Telecommunication Association to be submitted with its official comments on the proposal. Unofficially, it has already clearly shared its belief that the proposal to share set-top info and content with third parties would distort competition and hurt consumers.