Back at the FCC: Congress Responds to AT&T Merger

With everyone on vacation or preparing for vacation, the FCC released letters from our Congressional representatives regarding their feelings on the AT&T acquisition of T-Mobile.

None of the opinions express should come as a surprise to anyone following this debate. The longest and most detailed letter was drafted by Rep. Herbert Kohl, Chairman of the House Anti-Trust Sub-Committee.

Kohl strikes a blow for smaller regional wireless carriers, noting that they already pay high access charges to AT&T and Verizon to complete cellular calls.  And with these two former Bells acting as primary toll collectors for long-distance connections, regional wireless players are not very motivated to go national and face steeper chargers or other barriers. Continue reading

Comcast Responds to Bloomberg

The  200+ page response  to Bloomberg TV’s complaint that it had been exiled in Comcast’s lineup from the major players news neighborhoods —Fox, CNN, CNBC, etc.— has been submitted to the FCC.

The lawyers must have had loads of fun writing this thing.

The gist of Comcast’s argument is that it all depends on what you mean by news and a neighborhood. Continue reading

Back at the FCC: CableCARD Returns From the Dead

The FCC’s cableCARD initiative was supposed to crack open the proprietary set-top box provided by the cable operators and give consumers more box choices.

The idea was that you would purchase a PCMIA card for decrypting the cable signal and then have the luxury of inserting your CableCARD into a huge selection of third-party boxes, from the likes of TiVo, Roku, and zillion of others.Continue reading

TV Retransmission Fee Dispute: Fox vs Missouri’s KSFX

It’s been about two weeks since I attended Consumer Electronics Week at NYC, watched 3D TV on big screens and small, and met with local TV entrepreneur Jack Perry. TV is still very much on my mind.

Perry’s company Syncbak provides a new revenue source for local TV stations and network affiliates: retransmitting their content over the Internet, but only to subscribers in the local viewing area.

And I should add, this is a less contentious source of revenue, say compared to retransmitting a TV signal over a cable network.

During the weekend, I learned from The New York Times that a Fox affiliate in the Ozarks couldn’t come to terms with the Fox parent company. At issue was KSFX’s (Springfield, Missouri) own retransmission agreement with an unnamed cable operator.

Fox wanted a greater cut of the revenue that KSFX receives for allowing its signal (local news and Fox programming) to be seen by cable viewers.Continue reading

Bloomberg Complaint Against Comcast: Not Neighborly?

When Comcast acquired NBC from General Electric, one of the conditions in the FCC order approving the acquisition was that this media conglomerate must carry in their existing news neighborhoods “all independent news and business news channels”—like, for example, Bloomberg’s upstart TV channel.

You knew Comcast wasn’t going to make this easy.

Earlier this month, Bloomberg filed a complaint with the FCC against Comcast in which it documented in excruciating detail how in the 35 most populous DMAs (designated market areas), Comcast effectively exiles Bloomberg’s content away from a key block of consecutive news channels.

The correspondence summarized in the complaint between Dan Doctoroff, President of Bloomberg, and Comcast’s Neil Smit is comical in a bureaucratic, miscommunication kind of way.

Continue reading

Back at the FCC: Community Information Needs and Hurricanes

The FCC released another paperweight-class report.

Entitled The Information Needs of Communities, this 478 pager (with footnotes) is “an in-depth analysis of the current state of the media landscape along with a broad range of recommendations.”

Produced by journalists, academics, entrepreneurs, and led by Steve Waldman, a former editor and the founder of Beliefnet, the report has the obviousities you would expect, including newspaper revenue has dropped, local TV is a not source of investigative reporting, and the Internet has reduced the cost of gathering and distributing news.Continue reading

Why Else Would You Go to the Grand Canyon?

There may be good arguments in support of AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile, but improved WiFi access in the Grand Canyon is not one of them.

But that’s the claim that the Grand Canyon Hotel Operators Association makes in its comment to the FCC.

In the words of this trade group: “What our beloved canyon does not have, however, is state of the art wireless broadband service.”

Continue reading

Back at the FCC: Sprint Files 377-Page Petition

I’m going to review this massive petition to denial filing—redacted, though, for public viewing—over this short holiday week. Not surprisingly, Sprint Nextel is not happy with AT&T’s bid to swallow T-Mobile.

With the word duopoloy (according to my PDF search) showing up on 21 pages and anti-competitive on another 23 pages, I think you get an inkling of how this carrier feels.

And here’s a choice nugget from the beginning of this thing:Continue reading

Jon Stewart on Meridith Baker’s Jump to Comcast

I didn’t think there was much to say about FCC Commissioner Meredith Baker’s bold decision to leave the FCC for NBC Universal.

Shocking? No really.

As we all know Baker voted to approve Comcast’s acquisition of NBC a few months ago. She’ll move her files, notes, and computer gear over to the cable company’s Washington lobbying offices after her resignation takes effect in June.

Her new position has the fancy title of senior vice president for governmental affairs.

Fortunately, Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart has used Baker’s speedy exit as grist for his “Well, that was fast” segment.   Continue reading