John Eggerton

Mediacom Urges FCC to Unbundle

Mediacom asked the Federal Communications Commission to adopt new rules that would prevent volume-based discounts in program carriage deals, insure access to content online, and require the disclosure of rates.

Mediacom said the relationship between programmers and distributors is broken, that the marketplace as it has evolved thanks to Washington is anti-competitive and anti-consumer, and that Washington needs to fix it. It even co-opts some network neutrality language usually used by content providers towards ISPs, saying one thing the FCC needs to do is prevent programmers from blocking or restricting access to online content.

Mediacom wants the FCC to unbundle deals dominated by "six "media giants" who control more than 125 cable nets, including must-have programming. Mediacom is seeking the following new rule regime:

  • Give MVPDs an a la carte option for new channels or the most expensive.
  • Give MVPDs an unbundling option, with information about other offers and bundles
  • Prohibit the blocking or restricting of Internet access to programming as a negotiating tactic in agreements
  • Only allow volume discounts if they can be justified through waivers.

NAACP on Net Neutrality: FCC Should Use Sec. 706

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)and Communications Workers of America want the Federal Communications Commission to use its existing Sec. 706 authority to justify new open Internet regulations that essentially recreate the success of the old ones.

In comments to the FCC on its proposed new network neutrality rules, they said the FCC should follow the advice of the DC court.

"The Court affirmed the FCC’s legal authority to ground its Open Internet rules in Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act, and suggested that no blocking and anti-discrimination rules based on a 'commercially reasonable' standard would be legally sound. The Commission should take this approach to protect a free and Open Internet," they said.

House Communications Subcommittee Considers LPTV Bill

The House Commerce Committee Communications Subcommittee will hold a hearing July 24 on a trio of bills. No witnesses have been announced. The bills are the LPTV and Translator Act of 2014, a House version of the E-LABEL Act, and the Anti-Spoofing Act of 2013.

Low-power TV stations (LPTVs) in the bill will be given some "options" to continue to "serve their communities" in the station repacking following a broadcaster incentive auction. LPTVs were not given the same protections as full-powers, in the legislation creating the auction.

FCC: Armstrong's Price Is Right

The Federal Communications Commission has sided with an independent cable operator in a dispute over regional sports network pricing. In a 4-1 vote, the FCC has upheld a Media Bureau conclusion that cable company Armstrong Utilities' final offer for carriage of DirecTV Sports Net Pittsburgh's (DSNP) Fox Sports Pittsburgh was closer to fair market value.

Political Ad Trackers File FCC Complaint Against Stations

The Sunlight Foundation, joined by the Campaign Legal Center and Common Cause, has filed complaints at the Federal Communications Commission against two TV stations it said failed to properly identify the sponsors of political ads.

The stations targeted are Allbritton's WJLA Washington, which Sinclair is in the process of purchasing, and KGW Portland. The groups emphasized that the complaint was against Allbritton, not Sinclair.

The complaint against WJLA alleges it aired two ads that failed to identify that they were sponsored by a former hedge fund manager, instead identifying the sole sponsor and funder as super PAC NextGen Climate Action Committee. They also alleged that KGW aired multiple political ads identified as sponsored by American Principles Fund, when that group received "nearly all its funding" from another hedge fund manager.

CFA: FCC Needs Network Reality Rules

The Consumer Federation of America told the Federal Communications Commission that its new network neutrality rules need to reflect the "reality" of the 21st century digital economy, which means using its authority to promote broadband deployment under Sec 706 of the Communications Act to maintain the virtuous cycle of innovation and investment.

CFA Director of Research Mark Cooper says that rules are needed because "if [communications owners] are allowed to pursue their interests in an unfettered, unregulated manner, there is no doubt that they will undermine the virtuous cycle." While many groups are calling for Title II, Cooper says the FCC should begin by using its authority under Sec. 706, as FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has proposed.

Rep James Lankford Rips FCC, TV on House Floor

Rep James Lankford (R-OK) introduced and then withdrew an amendment to the Financial Services bill--which includes Federal Communications Commission appropriations -- that would have prevented the FCC from changing its indecency enforcement policy to pursue only egregious cases, as it has been informally doing since then-FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski adopted the policy in 2012 as a way to work through a million-plus complaint backlog.

ICLE Tells FCC Non-Neutral Internet Can Be Beneficial

The International Center for Law and Economics (ICLE) says that mandating that all Internet content be offered only on a take-it-or-leave it basis -- nondiscriminatory access by all users to all content -- is the "antithesis" of the calls for a la carte video programming made by many of those arguing for network neutrality rules.

That is according to a summary of comments by the group's executive director, Geoffrey Manne, to the Federal Communications Commission.

"Those who have argued that the FCC (or Congress) should force MVPDs to offer programming on an a la carte basis insist that users should be able to choose which content sources (channels in the case of video programming) they want to consume, without bearing the costs of accessing the full range of content," Manne writes.

NCTA: FCC Must Reject Alarmist Calls For Title II

The sky is not falling, Internet-wise, and regulators should act accordingly when it comes to imposing any new network neutrality regulations, regulations cable operators aren't persuaded are even needed.

That was the gist of the message from the National Cable & Telecommunications Association in advance of its comments on the FCC's latest effort to get open Internet rules by a DC federal appeals court last January.

"Contrary to what some alarmists may claim, these are not drastic times, and they certainly do not call for drastic measures like a wholesale change in our approach to broadband regulation," said NCTA.

Rep Rush Pushes FCC to OK BTNC Waiver

Rep Bobby Rush (D-IL) and three other members of the Congressional Black Caucus have written the Federal Communications Commission asking that the agency help the Black Television News Channel (BTNC) get off the ground and onto Dish and DirecTV.

In the letter, they urged the FCC to approve a temporary, three-year waiver of the FCC’s requirement that programmers using DBS “noncommercial educational” channel set-asides be commercial free.