What’s Hot List: 4/8/16

Nielsen Ups its Game With Access to Dish Set-Top Box Data (Fortune 4/4)

TV companies are racing to adapt to upheaval in the television market while others firm are racing to accurately measure that change.

TV ratings company Nielsen has cut a deal with Dish Network to help solve that problem. The two companies announced on Monday an agreement to share anonymized viewing data from millions of Dish set-top box users so that it can be included in Nielsen’s TV ratings.

Overnight Regulation: FCC unveils nutrition-like labels for Internet service (The Hill 4/4)

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is encouraging Internet providers to model their disclosures about product pricing and performance after nutritional labels on food products.

The labels are a way for companies to comply with the agency’s net neutrality rules. They list overage, equipment, early termination and administrative fees, as well as data allowances, and broadband speeds.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which helped design the labels, called Internet access the gateway to economic opportunity.


FCC tries to make it easier to shop for Internet service (USA Today 4/4)

New consumer broadband labels, unveiled by the Federal Communications Commission Monday, aim to educate buyers about the Internet service they are shopping for.


Just as food labels tell you what you are about to eat, new consumer broadband labels let you know how big of a broadband bill you might be biting off before you sign a contract.


The voluntary labels are “a simplified approach to the core information that consumers need to make an informed purchase decision,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said during an event unveiling the labels Monday.


Netflix, self-interest and net neutrality (The Hill 4/5)

The recent announcement by Netflix that it has been reducing the video quality of its programs on mobile networks for years — something the new net neutrality rules prohibit Internet service providers (ISPs) from doing — has sparked a firestorm by opponents of net neutrality regulations.

From the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and cable and telecom interests have come expressions of outrage that Netflix never acknowledged this practice during the time when regulators were actively considering, and ultimately approving, utility-style regulation of ISPs.

The FCC Should Let Consumers Choose (Forbes- Commentary by Steve Pociask 4/4)

Wireless Internet service providers are beginning to offer consumers access to some content for free. In some instances, this means consumers can enjoy some promotional content, including videos and music, without impacting their data plans. These offerings, called sponsored data plans, allow consumers to stream content from such sources as HBO, Starz, ESPN, Hulu, Netflix and others to their mobile devices, or to engage with marketing, advertising and promotional content without having the resulting usage count against their monthly wireless data cap.


Won’t Cut Federal Spending? Then Cap The Cost Of Regulation (Forbes- Commentary by Clyde Wayne Crews Jr. 4/4)

Last week a group of libertarian and conservative groups issued a coalition letter calling on Congress to cap regulatory costs.

While some of us have long advocated experimenting with a regulatory budget (albeit not at the expense of not reducing government itself, nor of continuing to tolerate Congress’ over-delegation to agencies), the impetus for our letter was the new House Budget Resolution for fiscal year 2017‘s “Policy on Federal Regulatory Budgeting and Reform.”


Senators Unhappy With FCC’s Treatment of TV Ad Agreements (Morning Consult 4/5/16)

The senators tasked with drafting the Federal Communications Commission’s annual funding are miffed by what they see as the FCC ignoring policy directives about certain broadcasting agreements.

The directives were inserted into an omnibus spending measure late last year to preserve long-established joint sales agreements under which TV stations in the same market can sell advertising space to one another.

In 2014, the FCC voted along party lines to ban such agreements, arguing that they were a regulatory “loophole” that allowed monopolies in various TV markets.


CIA withdraws plan to destroy emails (The Hill 4/4)

The CIA has formally withdrawn a controversial proposal to destroy the emails of all but 22 top-level officials after an employee leaves office.

A representative for the National Archives confirmed to The Hill on Monday that the agency backtracked on its proposal last month, following efforts to reorganize its structure.

The move formally kills an initiative condemned by lawmakers in both parties.

FCC Official Participates in SC Hearing on Prison Cellphones (ABC News 4/5)

Corrections officials say contraband cellphones are among the top security threats within prisons, and federal officials are in South Carolina to learn more about the problem.

Federal Communications Commissioner Ajit Pai is participating Wednesday in a field hearing in Columbia to hear from officials about the issue.

FCC’s Wheeler: Spectrum Auction Could Extend Into FY 2017 (Broadcasting & Cable 4/5)

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler told a Senate subcommittee April 5 that one of the reasons the FCC is seeking $11 million more in funding for the broadcast incentive auction is that there is no guarantee it won’t extend into fiscal year 2017 (which starts in July).

The FCC is hoping the bidding will be done by the third quarter of this year, but Wheeler pointed out that if the auction does not raise enough from wireless carriers to pay broadcasters, the spectrum must be re-auctioned again and again until that happens. He said there was no assurance things will end with one round.

Reality Check: Some questions for Netflix and the FCC (RCR Wireless 4/5/16)

The Wall Street Journal reported last Thursday (not on April Fool’s Day) that Netflix has been throttling their video content to 600 kilobits per second when it is destined for AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless (and most other wireless carriers across the globe), but not when it is headed to Sprint or T-Mobile US.

Netflix has been muted in their responses since the report has been issued, with only the director of corporate communications commenting through a carefully scripted blog post that basically says “we’re working on it”

Government-funded free Wi-Fi project isn’t providing much Wi-Fi (ARS Technica 4/4/16)

A project to bring free wireless Internet to poor people in California is only providing a fraction of the promised Wi-Fi hotspots, according to multiple reports.

With a state grant issued in 2012, a nonprofit called Manchester Community Technologies was supposed to “install free wireless Internet along busy boulevards in low-income neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles County,” said a report last week by the Los Angeles Daily News. The organization reported success to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in March 2015, saying it had connected more than 100,000 people to the Internet.

Economic Study Takes Aim at Muni Broadband (Multichannel 4/6/16)

Conservative policy group, the State Government Leadership Foundation (SGLF), has released an economic analysis that counts the reasons why municipal broadband should be treated with a “heavy dose of caution,” though the report comes off more as a big red “stop” sign than a flashing yellow caution light.

Why privacy pros should care about the FCC’s broadband privacy rules (IAPP 4/5/16)

On April Fool’s Day, the Federal Communications Commission issued a notice of proposed rulemaking containing a major proposed expansion of its telecom network usage information privacy, security and breach notice rules to broadband Internet access provider data. Comments are due in this proceeding on May 27th, and reply comments on June 27th.