John Eggerton Retrans Proposal Misses Mark

Broadcasters represented by aren't liking what they see in the retransmission consent revamp floated by the leadership of the Senate Commerce Committee.

Committee chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and ranking member Sen John Thune (R-SD) wanted to leave broadcasters and cable operators something to think about before the committee comes up with its version of the bill renewing the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA). That came in the form of a proposal to allow multichannel video programming distributors' subcribers to decide whether they want to pay the per-sub price for retransmission stations.

The proposal would essentially end retransmission negotiations between TV stations and cable ops, allowing viewers to decide which stations they wanted to have and pay for -- must carry stations would still have to be carried.

Rep Walden: FCC's O'Rielly is Spot On

House Communications Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) praised Republican Federal Communications Commissioner Michael O'Rielly's call for publishing the text of FCC proposals before they are voted.

FCC Chairman Wheeler Seeks Management Info From Other Wireless Carriers

Federal Communications Chairman Tom Wheeler sent letters to wireless carriers AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile asking about their network management practices, what is reasonable management, and expressing concerns similar to those in a letter he sent to Verizon.

ACA Asks FCC to Prohibit Some Affiliation Switch, Multicast Moves

The American Cable Association wants the Federal Communications Commission to prevent television stations from swapping affiliations in a market so that one station owner programs two of the Top Four networks and to disallow a Top Four network-programmed station in a market from carrying a second Top Four net on a multicast stream. ACA argues broadcasters will subvert the FCC's new prohibitions on coordinated retransmission consent. Swaps and multicast moves, it argues, would result in the same undue leverage and potential harms the FCC's recent rule changes were meant to prevent.

WGAW to FCC: Keep Ownership Rules

TV writers appear happy with the Federal Communications Commission's long-running script for broadcast station owners, which is to limit ownership and crossownership.

In comments to the FCC on its combined 2010 and 2014 quadrennial media ownership rule review, the Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) said that protecting the public interest means the FCC must retain rules that "limit duopolies, prohibit mergers of the top four local broadcast stations, restrict newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership and prevent any of the top four broadcast networks from merging are necessary to maintain both local market and national competition."

WGAW says that consolidation and the control of media by a "handful" of companies is the biggest threat to freedom of speech, and that the FCC has a "special obligation" to promote a diverse and competitive broadcast market.

Analyst: No Sprint/T-Mobile Deal Helps Comcast/TWC, FCC

Bernstein Research says that if T-Mobile and Sprint drop their merger plans, as expected, it will benefit other potential merger partners Comcast/Time Warner Cable and AT&T/DirecTV, as well as the Federal Communications Commission, the regulator faced with those two, already filed, deal proposals.

FCC Sec. 706 NOI Draws Advocacy Group Praise

The Federal Communications Commission's signal in a Notice of Inquiry that its latest Sec. 706 report could start factoring in usage limits and latency and other network management issues as it considers what is reasonable and timely deployment of advanced communications and just what speed and level of access qualifies as "advanced" drew applause from public interest groups.

"The primary goal of the national Broadband Plan is for 100 million US homes to have affordable access to actual download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second by 2020," said Benton Foundation Director of Policy Amina Fazlullah. "In today’s NOI, the FCC is using its broad powers under Section 706 of the Communications Act to ask the right questions and take the right measurements to ensure the US reaches our stated goal. The Benton Foundation welcomes the FCC action and its potential positive impact on advancing other national priorities including civic participation, public safety and homeland security, healthcare, and education."

Consumers Union and the Consumer Federation of America also voiced support.

NCTA's Powell: TiVo Just Wrong About CableCARD

National Cable & Telecommunications Association President Michael Powell called "spurious" TiVo’s claim that an agreement between TiVo and Comcast to work on a non-CableCARD retail set-top retail "solution" argues for retaining the ban on integrated security and channel surfing functions in leased boxes.

Senate USA Freedom Act Gets Good Reviews

The USA Freedom Act of 2014 was getting a round of applause from stakeholders following its introduction.

"By establishing a panel of advocates to argue before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and requiring it to issue statements about its decisions, the Senate bill strengthens our privacy rights and civil liberties," said Microsoft general counsel and executive VP Brad Smith.

Free Press Action Fund policy director Matt Wood said: “Sen Leahy has taken the important step of crafting a bill that corrects many mistakes in the weakened House measure.”

The Computer & Communications Industry Association agrees the House bill was weak and says the Senate bill would make metadata collection more effective and improve the "checks and balances."

The American Civil Liberties Union says the bill still isn't quite right, but it's getting there.

FCC Commissioners: FCC Needs To Review Designated Entity Rules

On July 29, the Federal Communications Commissioners agreed that the FCC needs to look at revamping its designated entity rules. Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said that, no matter what the pressure to do otherwise, she would not support the notion that entrepreneurship opportunities are reserved for a particular class.

She vowed that the commission would do all it can, in a legally sustained way, to promote meaningful participation for small and diverse businesses.

Commissioner Ajit Pai said that the key to incentive auction participation, and that one way that he has proposed it allowing people to bid on smaller economic areas, which he said would allow more small designated entities to bid in the upcoming AWS-3 and broadcast incentive auctions.

Commissioner Michael O'Rielly said he was optimistic the incentive auction would be "very successful."