What’s Hot List: 5/27/16

Should Consumers Be Permitted to Provide Their Own Set-Top Cable and Satellite Boxes? (Wall Street Journal 5/22)

The Federal Communications Commission wants TV viewers to have more alternatives to their current set-top boxes. Today, nearly all subscribers to cable, satellite and phone-company TV services rent a box from their service provider that allows them to watch the programming they’re paying for. Cable viewers can buy their own box, but it’s an expensive option that few have chosen. To spark more competition, the FCC has proposed that a technology standard be developed—a so-called open standard—that would allow anyone to create and sell boxes or apps that would give these pay-TV subscribers access to their shows.

No winners possible in Net neutrality legal battle, says ex-FCC chief (CNET 5/25)

It doesn’t matter which way the court swings on the cable industry’s legal challenge to the Federal Communications Commission’s open Internet rules. Everyone has already lost.

That’s the cheery take from Michael Powell, head of the cable industry’s biggest lobbying group and a former FCC chairman.

Peak TV in the FCC Valley of Darkness (Wall Street Journal 5/24- Commentary)

A piece on Vulture.com, not the first of its kind, says we are living in a period of “peak TV.” More money is being invested in more adventurous shows than ever, to be distributed in a rapidly expanding TV ecosystem created by the high-speed Internet: “ Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange team up for FX, Amy Adams heads to HBO, Drew Barrymore joins Timothy Olyphant for a Netflix comedy.”

Republican Governors Ask FCC To Jam Cellphone Signals In Prisons (CBS Sacramento 5/24)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – Ten Republican governors want the Federal Communications Commission to give states more autonomy to apply technology that can stop prison inmates from using smuggled cellphones.

Gov. Nikki Haley and her counterparts encouraged FCC Chairman Thomas Wheeler in a letter Monday to give them “flexibility and authority” to render such communication impossible.

Former Obama regulatory chair advises FCC against new regulations (Washington Examiner 5/24)

A Democratic former chairman of the Federal Trade Commission is advising regulators at another agency not to pass new rules that would restrict how broadband providers handle customer data, warning that they would “fundamentally” depart from precedent.

House clears bills on FCC, dialing 911 (The Hill 5/24)

The House cleared a trio of communications bills Monday night, including one meant to make it easier to dial 911 in some situations and another that supporters say makes the Federal Communications Commission more transparent.

Grassley worried about FCC box proposal (The Hill 5/23)

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) joined several other high-ranking colleagues on Monday in hitting Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler’s plan to open up the market for television boxes.

“I support the goal of greater competition and innovation in the marketplace for how consumers are able to access and watch video programming,” Grassley said in a letter.




Lawmakers Want to Know How Set-Top Box Plan Addresses Cybersecurity (Morning Consult 5/23- Commentary)

Democratic and Republican leaders of congressional committees overseeing homeland security want to know how the Federal Communications Commission’s set-top box proposal will address cybersecurity.

House Slated To Pass Four Telecom Bills Monday (Morning Consult 5/23)

The House is set to pass four noncontroversial telecom bills Monday afternoon. The four measures are among a host of noncontroversial bills to be voted on under the suspension of House rules, generally noting smooth passage.

The Downside of the FCC’s New Internet Privacy Rules (Harvard Business Review 5/27)

There may soon be a new cop on the privacy beat — the Federal Communications Commission. Last month, the FCC issued a 150-page document proposing sweeping new rules and regulations for broadband Internet Service Providers (ISPs). But in my analysis, this is not good news for those who genuinely care about promoting consumer privacy.

To understand why the FCC’s involvement would create more problems than it would solve, it helps to understand a massive shift in web security over the last few years: the overwhelmingly successful campaign to encrypt data flowing to and from consumers over the Internet.

U.S. Appeals Court Strikes Down FCC Broadcaster Sales Rules (Fortune 5/25)

A U.S. federal appeals court on Wednesday struck down regulations aimed at cracking down on joint sales agreements by local broadcasters, saying an overall review of media ownership rules was long overdue and needed to be completed first.

The Federal Communications Commission in 2014 banned such agreements, arguing they allowed companies to effectively control more than two television stations in a market, which is prohibited by commission rules.