What’s Hot List: 5/6/16

Consumer Watchdog Took Millions From Google, Quiet on Privacy Concerns (Washington Free Beacon 5/3/16)

An influential tech industry watchdog group that has received millions of dollars from Google has been silent on the internet giant’s recent fight to circumvent Federal Communications Commission restrictions on data collection.

The Center for Democracy and Technology, a consumer watchdog group with outsized influence in Washington, took in $2.5 million from Google between 2010 and 2014, according to tax records. The donations amounted to more than double the amount contributed by any other company during the same period.

House Dems Highlight Set-Top Pushback (Multichannel News 5/3/16)

A trio of Democratic House members have written their colleagues to disabuse them of the notion, if they have gotten it, that the content industry supports FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s set-top box proposal.

That is just the latest pushback from legislators from Wheeler’s own party who have expressed concerns about the proposal’s impact on copyrights and diverse programming, among other issues.

Union Complains to F.C.C. That Verizon Is Pressuring Phone Customers (New York Times 5/2/16)

A union representing thousands of striking Verizon workers and several consumer groups plan to complain to federal regulators on Tuesday about the tactics Verizon uses to persuade customers to switch their home phone service to fiber-optic lines.

In an informal complaint to be filed with the Federal Communications Commission, the union and consumer groups contend that Verizon is engaged in “institutional deception” because it sends out workers with no intention of repairing old-fashioned copper telephone wires. Verizon has made it clear that it would prefer to invest in expanding its fiber network instead of maintaining the copper lines.

LPTVs, FCC Square Off in Court (Broadcasting & Cable 5/5/16)

Attorneys for LPTV station owner Mako Communications and LPTV option owner FAB Telemedia told a federal court Thursday (May 5) that the FCC is trying to turn those stations’ acknowledged secondary status when it comes to interference issues into a blanket license to displace them in the spectrum auction.

The LPTV attorneys squared off against the FCC in oral arguments–their related challenges were heard separately one after the other–in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.


FCC’s Media Bureau Issues Video Competition Report (Multichannel News 5/6/16)

The FCC has released its 17th annual–though it has not always been released annually–report on the state of video competition.

Per usual, the report does not say whether or not it is competitive, but instead summarizes the business models and strategies in various sectors and provides financial and operating data. It is based on data from through the end of 2014.

FCC Greenlights Charter’s Acquisition of Time Warner Cable and Bright House (Fortune 5/6/16)

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission confirmed on Friday that it had voted to approve Charter Communications’s acquisitions of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks.

The deals, which would create the second-largest U.S. broadband provider and third-largest video provider, now need approval from regulators in California.

Inspector general investigating FCC leaks (The Hill 5/6/16)

The inspector general for the Federal Communications Commission opened an investigation last month into the leak of private information ahead of a vote to offer internet subsidies to low-income Americans.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said he is cooperating with the probe and believes information about the agency’s deliberations was shared outside the agency.

Why is the FCC regulating the biggest privacy risk platforms the least? (The Daily Dot- Opinion 5/3/16)

The epic flaw in the FCC’s Title II privacy Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) is that it purports to best protect consumers’ private information by only regulating broadband providers’ use of that private information, while emphatically protecting dominant edge platforms from FCC privacy regulation when they use that same FCC-regulated private information indiscriminately without consumers’ meaningful knowledge or consent.

Yes, you read that right.

Apparently the FCC thinks it is more important to protect dominant edge platforms from FCC privacy regulation, than it is to protect consumers’ private information.

FCC Approves Altice’s Purchase of Cablevision (Multichannel News 5/3/16)

The FCC has approved Altice’s $17.7 billion purchase of Cablevision.

The approval came with no fanfare, and no commissioner vote, instead approved on delegated authority by the Wireline Bureau.

“We find that approval of the applications will serve the public interest, convenience, and necessity and hereby grant the applications…” subject to conditions.

Altice is based in the Netherlands, so the conditions are related to national security.