What’s Hot List 4/29/16

The FCC’s Privacy Ruse (Forbes 4.27.16)

The Federal Communications Commission recently proposed imposing extensive consumer-privacy regulations on broadband Internet service providers to dictate how they handle customer-related data. Leading up to the Commission’s vote to move forward with seeking public comments on the new proposal, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler took on a new role at the regulatory body: Salesman in Chief.

Charter-TWC Approval Has Low-Income Broadband Condition (Multichannel News 4.26.16)

The FCC will require a low-income, low cost broadband initiative as one of the conditions on the Charter/Time Warner Cable deal, according to sources familiar with the agreement.

Charter has already pledged such an effort, so that is not a heavy lift. But it was not among the conditions FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler talked about in his statement on circulating conditional approval of the deal.

Association of National Advertiser: FCC Should Not Approve Set-Top NPRM (Broadcasting & Cable 4.26.16)

Stay tuned for this important message: Advertisers, more than 700 of them, oppose the FCC’s set-top box proposal in its current form.

One of MVPDs’ big concerns is once third parties get access to their content and data, it will be re-monetized, including new ads placed on top or around that content and data, without their permission.

But advertisers, who theoretically would have a new platform for their ads, are no less concerned than MVPDs at the prospect, if an FCC filing by the Association of National Advertiser is any indication.

Regulators Recommend Approval of Charter-Time Warner Cable Deal (Wall Street Journal 4.25.16)

Federal regulators are poised to approve Charter Communications Inc.’s $55 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable Inc., but they will force the merged company to live up to stringent obligations that don’t apply to its bigger rivals.

FCC Seeks Comment on ATSC 3.0 Petition (Broadcasting & Cable 4.27.16)

As promised, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has moved swiftly to seek comment on a proposal by broadcasters to deploy the new ATSC 3.0 transmission standard while still simulcasting their DTV broadcasts in the current standard—the two are not compatible.

In a public notice, the FCC set an initial comment deadline of May 26 and a reply comment deadline of June 27.

What’s the rush, FCC? (The Hill 4/25/16)

In light of the recent pronouncements from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Obama administration, I am compelled to respond to their notion that the set-top box issue is simply one of expanded competition.

I am in no way against increased competition, particularly for the benefit of the American consumer. However, what the small and multicultural media providers who have weighed in with the FCC — and what my congressional colleagues who sent letters to the FCC in December, including myself — find alarming is that the FCC appears to be rushing through sweeping rule changes without first examining the unintended consequences and potentially damaging impact that a radical industry shift could have on an already fragile, small and multicultural media market and its ecosystem.

The FCC just signaled war against data caps (The Verge 4.25.16)

The US government is about to approve Charter’s bid for Time Warner Cable, and like similar mega-mergers in recent history, it’s coming with plenty of strings attached. One of those strings is a prohibition on data caps, which have been a subject of frustration for thousands of broadband customers over the past year. But the FCC has been pretty quiet about them so far — until today, when it revealed a combined Charter / Time Warner Cable won’t be allowed to impose them for seven years.

Google to FCC: Privacy Pledge Unnecessary (Multichannel News 4.26.16)

Google is taking issue with the FCC’s proposal to have third parties, like Google, voluntarily adhere to cable-like customer privacy rules in exchange for getting access to cable operator set-top content.

That was a quid pro quo proposed in FCC chairman Tom Wheeler’s set-top box “unlocking” proposal, which Google supports.

FCC Set-top Box Rules Not Ready, but Legal Challenges Are (Bloomberg BNA 4.25.16)

The Federal Communications Commission’s open set-top box proposal is all but guaranteed to see a court challenge if it gets adopted in a form remotely resembling the agency’s notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) approved earlier this year.

Google’s unusually close relationship with the White House raises lots of questions (Mashable 4.26.16)

When President Obama announced his support earlier in April for a Federal Communications Commission plan to open the market for cable set-top boxes — a big win for consumers, but also for Google — the cable and telecommunications giants who used to have a near-stranglehold on tech policy were furious. AT&T Chief Lobbyist Jim Cicconi lashed out at what he called White House intervention on behalf of “the Google proposal.”

He’s hardly the first to suggest that the Obama administration has become too close to the Silicon Valley juggernaut.


AT&T: FCC Fighting Old Set-Top War (Multichannel 4.26.16)

A top AT&T exec says the FCC’s set-top proposal is a foolish monstrosity, and that the current commission is like an old general fighting the last war, but with casualties to the business models of MVPDs today.

The future of TV is arriving faster than anyone predicted (The Washington Post 4.25.16)

Late last week, Comcast announced a new program that allows makers of smart TVs and other Internet-based video services to have full access to your cable programming without the need for a set-top box.  Instead, the content will flow directly to the third-party device as an app, including all the channels and program guide.

The Xfinity TV Partner Program will initially be offered on new smart TVs from Samsung, as well as Roku streaming boxes.  But the program, built on open Internet-based standards including HTML5, is now open to other device manufacturers to adopt.

Google looks gift horse in mouth, opposes FCC privacy protections for set-tops (FierceCable 4.27.16)

While the FCC’s “Unlock the Box” proposal seems remarkably tailored for Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), the technology giant has one little bone to pick with the agency in comments submitted earlier this week.

Google says that privacy rules the FCC wants to place on third-party set-top makers are unnecessary.

Battle of the box splits industry, Dems (The Hill 4.26.16)

A regulatory push that could open up the market for set-top boxes consumers use to watch television is angering several corporate giants and splitting Democrats on Capitol Hill.

Major corporate players with a lot to lose — or gain — from the proposal have flooded the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) with comments.