Digital Beat Blog

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How Can TV Survive the Recession? Local Public Service

For years, I have been trying to convince television broadcasters that their legal requirement to serve the public interest, convenience and necessity is also in their own financial interest. This year's economic downturn has broadcasters -- like other businesses -- worried about their survival. The recession is costing stations some of their biggest advertisers, such as car dealers and retailers. Advertising sales at TV stations may fall 23 percent in 2009 after a 9 percent dip to $13.1 billion last year. On April 16, Bloomberg news published a story titled "U.S. TV Stations Attract More Viewers With News Than 'Seinfeld'" that shows that now, more than ever, broadcasters must serve local community needs if they are to survive.

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A First Step to Our National Broadband Plan

With the rush to implement the broadband-related provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, little attention has been paid to a provision of the 2008 Farm Bill with requires the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Agriculture to craft a comprehensive rural broadband strategy. This plan is due to Congress this Spring and the FCC has requested public input.

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Public Computing Broadband Grant Criteria

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) requires the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to establish the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (B-TOP). NTIA is to make at least $200 million available for expanding public computer capacity including community colleges and public libraries. NTIA is asking what criteria will help identify the best projects to award grants to. NTIA is also asking for public comment on what additional institutions other than community colleges and public libraries should be considered as eligible recipients under this program.

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Let's get to Work on Criteria for NTIA Grant Awards

The Recovery Act establishes several considerations for awarding grants under the national Telecommunications and Information Administration's new Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). Past five criteria in the statute the NTIA may consider other priorities. Here's some ideas.

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Writing an Effective Public Interest Rule for NTIA Broadband Grant Eligibility

The Recovery Act identifies two types of entities eligible to apply for and win NTIA broadband grants -- 1) state and local governments and 2) non-profit organizations. But the Act includes an opening for any other entity to become eligible. This language means that the NTIA is required to determine by rule whether it is in the public interest and in line with the overall purposes of the grants to open-up eligibility. And, so, the NTIA asks what standard to apply to determine if it is in the public interest for entities to be eligible.

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Let's Get to Work on the Role of the States in the NTIA Broadband Grant Program

From Congress, there is a recognition that States have resources and a familiarity with local economic, demographic, and market conditions that could contribute to the success of the broadband grant program. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration seeks comment on how best to consult the states while the NTIA retains the sole authority to approve the awards.

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Let's Get to Work on the Purposes of the Broadband Grant Program

Great news! The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) requires the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to establish the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (B-TOP) and the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) to make grants and loans for the deployment and construction of broadband systems. The Recovery Act also makes $7.2 billion available for these programs. But now comes the hard part: how do we get these grants, loans and loans guarantees flowing so they help the economy quickly while also directing to the people and places that need broadband improvements most?

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Many Voices, Many Eyes Needed

With the quality of our telecommunications system for the 21st century at stake, Federal policymakers need to hear not just from the telecommunications industry. They need to hear from you.

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A Gift to the Nation

We have just a few days left in 2008, but there's still time for the Federal Communications Commission to give us a gift and correct a great error made on Election Day. There's overwhelming consensus that we should be moving to universal, affordable broadband. Here's how the FCC could set us on that course.

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Your Turn: Call for Broadband Action

Now it is your turn. Will you ask President-elect Obama to get started on a National Broadband Strategy?

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Another DTV Opportunity Missed by the FCC

Last Friday, with about just two months left until the digital television (DTV) transition is completed, Sen Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Rep Henry Waxman (D-CA) sent Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin a letter asking him to confine his last FCC actions to smoothing the DTV transition and matters that "require action under the law." In response, Chairman Martin canceled the FCC's scheduled monthly meeting on December 18. That's a bad idea and another lost opportunity for digital television.

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A Broadband Action Plan for America

In the Digital Age, universal, affordable, and robust broadband is the key to our nation's citizens reaching for - and achieving - the American Dream.

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Putting the Public Interest Back Into Communications Part II: Broadband for Everyone, Everywhere

An invitation to speak at the annual conference of the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, has Charles Benton thinking about defining our communications goals for the next Administration.

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Putting the Public Interest Back Into Communications Part I: The Civil Rights Imperative

On September 18, Charles Benton was invited to speak at the annual conference of the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors. Benton was asked to appear on a panel titled "The Future of Communications: What is Coming in a New Administration and Beyond?" In these uncertain times, however, maybe it is too much for anyone or any one panel, to predict what our telecommunications future will look like. We can - and we should - however, take this moment to define our communications goals.

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Children Now: The stakes are too high to sell children's needs short

September 23, 2008 Children Now's Patti Miller testified before the US Senate on food marketing to children. She said that because there is no uniform nutrition standard; because unhealthy products creatively labeled as "better for you" are being passed off as healthy food for children; and because the media companies refuse to play a role in protecting children from the advertising of unhealthy food products, current voluntary industry initiatives to curb unhealthy food marketing to kids are not enough.

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Why Broadband Matters

The Senate Commerce Committee meets September 16 to hear testimony on the consumer benefits of broadband service. The question of the day is Why Broadband Matters? Charles benton could offer a long list of reasons why broadband matters, but the list of reasons is too long to enumerate here because it is over 305 million names long. Broadband matters for every American.

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"This" Is Our Digital Future?

Chicago has a rich media history, having been the center of the emerging broadcast industry in the early 1920's, home to the first radio station to broadcast the World Series, the "Chicago School of Television," and the city that pioneered the daytime-talk show format. Chicago has been an innovator and provider of high-quality content when new capacity demands new content. The question now is: As broadcast television migrates toward digital technology is Chicago media situated to be an innovative leader again? Unfortunately, the answer is "no." As the capacity of television broadcasters multiples with the migration to digital technology, far from acting as a model in creating new content and services, Chicago broadcasters are failing the community, mostly looking to the past for quick and cheap "solutions."

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Saving Red Lion

I was troubled to read over the weekend that the major broadcast television networks have filed briefs at the Supreme Court challenging Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. Federal Communications Commission, one of the seminal cases in the history of US broadcasting and a decision that strikes the correct balance of rights between broadcasters and citizens.

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The Future of Universal Service is Broadband

On Tuesday, a House hearing will consider the future of communications in America. The question of the day is whether America's future communications system should be based on 19th century technology - the telephone - or on 21st century digital broadband.

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Accelerating the Great Broadband Migration

We’re number 2! We’re number 2! China has now topped the United States in total number of broadband subscribers and its growth rate in this field doubles ours. In the U. S., we’re not used to being the runner-up. But when it comes to the Internet, we've become an “also ran” on the international scene.

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