What’s Hot List: 5/20/16

Overnight Regulation: GOP concerned about White House pressure on FCC cable-box plan (The Hill 5/17)

President Obama’s support for the Federal Communication’s Commission’s plan to open the market for television set-top boxes has Republicans like Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) concerned.

In letters to the White House and FCC, Cornyn said he’s troubled by claims administration officials are pressuring an independent agency on the proposed reforms, which he said could determine winners and losers in the industry. Companies that provide live video services, like Comcast, will be forced to open up their video feeds to firms that want to make their own boxes, providing new competition for the set-top box market.

FCC Dem agrees with GOP: internet privacy rules would benefit from more time (The Hill 5/17)

A controversial proposal to regulate the privacy policies of companies that offer internet service could benefit from more time, a majority of Federal Communications Commission members said Tuesday.

Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel agreed with her Republican colleagues that the more than 500 questions asked in the proposed regulations recently approved makes the issue extremely complex.

“I do believe that this is the kind of subject that is complicated and would benefit from a longer rulemaking,” she said during a talk at The Internet and Television Expo in Boston.

Sen. Cornyn Probes White House Role in FCC Set-Top Push (Broadcasting & Cable 5/18)

Texas Republican Senator and Majority Whip John Cornyn has problems with the way the FCC’s set-top box proposalcame down and what role the White House had in that and other FCC decisions.

In letters to White House counsel Neil Eggleston and FCC chairman Tom Wheeler this week, Cornyn presumed the White House had been directing the outcome of the proceedings of the FCC, an independent agency, and wanted information about how that was happening.

Top Republican raises questions about FCC box proposal (The Hill 5/17)

The Senate majority whip is raising concerns this week after President Obama backed a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposal to open up the market for television set-top boxes.

“Irrespective of the underlying merits of the FCC’s proposal, I am troubled by claims that administration officials are inappropriately pressuring an independent agency to pick winners and losers in the marketplace,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said in letters Monday to White House counsel Neil Eggleston and FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

Hey WHDH, take your Comcast fight to the FCC (The Boston Globe 5/17)

Well, that was fast.

I’m talking about billionaire Ed Ansin’s legal battle with Comcast. It was over before it really got started after a federal judge issued a decision late Monday to dismiss the case.

But for anyone who was in US District Court Judge Richard Stearns’ courtroom on Thursday, it should come as no surprise. During that first — and what would be the only hearing — the judge seemed skeptical that Comcast’s decision to drop WHDH-TV (Channel 7) as an NBC affiliate constituted a breach of contract or violated antitrust statutes.

Judge Stearns, however, intimated more than once that Ansin might find a more sympathetic ear at the Federal Communications Commission, the agency that regulates broadcast and other media. 


The Federal Communications Commission frequently splits along party lines these days. But there’s a bipartisan majority for one idea: giving people more time to weigh in on proposed privacy rules for broadband providers.

The commission adopted the proposal in March on a 3-2 party-line vote. Last month, the agency denied requests from several groups, including the Association of National Advertisers and the American Cable Association, for an extension past the June 27 deadline for reply comments on the proposal, saying the time allowed should be enough for all stakeholders to weigh in.

Net Neutrality Isn’t Progressive (US News and World Report 5/16)

If you need any proof that the Orwellian future is here, look no further than the rhetoric employed by net neutrality proponents in describing popular free data plans available to mobile customers. One prominent netroots group, whose language mirrors that of many others, insists these offerings “thwart innovation, threaten free speech, and restrict consumer choice.”

The truth is, these plans – also known as zero-rated or sponsored data plans – represent a new form of competition by which companies offer to cover the cost of consumer data use for their services, such as music streaming. They threaten innovation and free speech about as much as the creation of 1-800 numbers imperiled the future of telephones.

D.C. Circuit’s Pace on Net Neutrality Case is Norm (Bloomberg BNA 5/16)

May 13 — A federal appeals court has been mulling a high-stakes legal challenge to the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules for months, leaving the communications sector waiting and wondering about when the court will finally hand down its decision.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is taking longer with the case than when it considered either of two prior challenges to the agency’s earlier net neutrality efforts, and the anticipation among observers is growing steadily. But legal experts told Bloomberg BNA that what might feel like a delay in the much-anticipated ruling is more like standard operating procedure.

Roku’s stance speaks volumes about problems with FCC’s set-top box proposal (The Hill 5/20)

The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) plan to mandate technology standards for TV set-top boxes in the name of creating more retail competition is being opposed by an unlikely source: set-top box maker Roku.

On the face of it, the FCC’s scheme is designed to help companies like Roku. The mandate would deconstruct the video streams coming into your living room’s traditional set-top box so they could be repackaged and served to you by any company with an interest in building a set-top box.