John Eggerton

Pai Proposal Resolves USTelecom Forbearance Petition

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has circulated a proposal to grant USTelecom what is described as two narrow portions of its request for forbearance from applying some copper-era Telecommunications Act voice service support regulations to an increasingly fiber world. But it does not retire broadband-related obligations after USTelecom withdrew that ask July 1.

Comcast Pushes Shapefile Broadband Mapping Approach

Comcast met with Federal Communications Commission officials the week of June 24 to urge them to adopt NCTA-The Internet & Television Association's proposal to use polygon shapefiles to more accurately map broadband deployment, including where service could be lit up in a matter of days (which Comcast argues should count as served). In their meeting with FCC officials, the Comcast executives made the point that the shapefiles mapping approach would be more granular than census block, saying shapefiles "accurately reflect coverage in partially served census blocks that may not be depicte

House-Passed FCC Appropriations Bill Unwinds Some Pai-Backed Decisions

The House has passed an omnibus appropriations bill, the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, and it funds the Federal Communications Commission. But it will almost certainly need major tweaking if Senate Republicans are expected to approve it, partially due to three amendments related to FCC policy.

FCC Investigating Sinclair Over Tribune Deal

In a letter of inquiry sent by the Federal Communications Commission's Media Bureau to Sinclair Broadcast Group General Counsel David Gibber, the FCC asks for documents releated to Sinclair's  aborted effort to buy Tribune TV stations and whether Sinclair mislead the FCC about who would actually be controlling the stations it was spinning off as part of the deal. The FCC is investigating "whether, in light of the issues presented in the HDO, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc.

Supremes' FCC Case Remand Could Weaken Commission's Defense of Decisions

The Supreme Court vacated a lower court decision on the Federal Communications Commission's enforcement of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, in the process raising questions about the FCC's ability to enforce other regulations, depending on how they are crafted and what court is reviewing them. At issue is how much leeway the courts and regulated entities have to challenge FCC interpretations and definitions in its decisions, which are regularly challenged in courts. One law firm called it a potentially "landmark" ruling.

House Approves Full Funding-Plus for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting

The House has approved funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the independent agency that dispenses federal funding for noncommercial media. The $495 million in funding, which was not only full funding but an additional $50 million, is for 2022. CPB is forward funded in an attempt to depoliticize the process. President Donald Trump has proposed phasing out the federal government's contribution of about 15% of CPB's annual budgets, but lawmakers from both parties have signaled that is not happening.

FCC "Soft" Launches National Lifeline Eligibility Verifier in Another 11 States

The Federal Communications Commission is "soft" launching its national Lifeline eligibility verifier in another 11 states on June 25: Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia. Eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) in those states who are eligible for the Lifeline subsidies will not be able to begin any subscriber recertifications after June 25 and should wrap up any current certifications under the existing rules by Aug 30.

Senator Wicker Introduces Broadband DATA Act

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS) has introduced the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (Broadband DATA) Act, aimed at improving broadband mapping at the Federal Communications Commission. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and the FCC are in agreement that the government's form 477 carrier-reported deployment data collection has not provided accurate maps on where broadband (fixed and mobile) is or isn't.

Huawei Continues to Push Back on FCC USF Tech Ban

Huawei, perhaps buoyed by Trump Administration reported easing-up on potential sanctions on the Chinese telecommunication company, has "supplemented the record" in its fight against a Federal Communications Commission proposal banning telecoms with "suspect" tech from broadband deployment subsidies in the Universal Service Fund (USF) program.

House Antitrust Subcommittee Looks at Impact of Online Platforms on Journalism and Competition

The House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee held the hearing "Online Platforms and Market Power, Part 1: The Free and Diverse Press", beginning its look at antitrust issues related to the practice of journalism in the age of online platforms with enormous market power. The News Media Alliance, whose president, David Chavern, was testifying, has called on Congress to give news outlets an antitrust exemption so they can flex some collective muscle and negotiate for compensation for all that news content being aggregated and distributed by Facebook, Google and other platforms.