Digital Beat Blog

benton logo

Net Neutrality Oral Arguments and Responding to Terrorism

The Federal Communications Commission’s latest attempt at network neutrality rules got a thorough review during three hours of oral arguments at the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on December 4. (You can listen to a recording of the argument here.) The crux of this oral argument: Did Congress give deference to the FCC to choose how Internet service should be classified, and is the FCC’s decision to change course now justified?

benton logo

Accountable Political Ads Now

Common Cause, the Sunlight Foundation, and the Campaign Legal Center, represented by the Institute for Public Representation at the Georgetown University Law Center, filed formal complaints against 18 television stations in four states, asking the Federal Communications Commission to order these broadcasters to make on-air disclosures of the true identity of the sponsors of political ads appearing on their stations. The three organizations also sent letters informing more than 100 other stations of the true sponsor of certain Independence USA PAC ads they had run. It should have been easy for the stations to do this because the founder and sole funder of this organization is Michael Bloomberg.

benton logo

NSA Surveillance Program Gets Nixed, and We Visit 1986

At midnight on November 29, the National Security Agency stopped the bulk collection of metadata (phone numbers and call duration, but not the content of a call) from American’s phone calls, bringing an end to the controversial government surveillance program.

benton logo

A Guide To Broadcasters’ Obligations During Election Campaigns

Now that NBC stations have reportedly given free air time to five Republican presidential candidates because of Donald Trump’s recent appearance on “Saturday Night Live, this is a good time to take a look at the Federal Communications Commission’s regulation of political broadcasting matters. Some of these requirements can get very complicated, so this is necessarily a broad overview which does not deal with many details that arise in the implementation of these principles.

benton logo

Charles and the Rainbow

There was a wonderful and inspiring event in Washington, DC last week. It was a celebration to honor the life of Charles Benton who passed away six months ago. This was just one of numerous events across the land that have paid tribute to the remarkable life of this truly extraordinary individual, but it was as impressive an event as any I have attended during my 45 years in the nation’s capital. In addition to family, attendees included public interest movers and shakers and government officials who worked with Charles in one capacity or another over the course of his incredibly distinguished career.

benton logo

Paris Attacks and the Communications Policy Ramifications

On November 13, a series of coordinated attacks in Paris, France, resulted in the death of 130 people. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attack, the worst terrorist attack in Europe in 11 years. The attacks raised numerous issues pertaining to communications policy, including 1) resparking the debate around encryption and government surveillance for national security purposes, 2) the use of social media for emergency communications, 3) Internet censorship, 4) how the attacks will affect the 2016 US election, and 5) criticism of how the media covered the events.

benton logo

Levers to Intensify Broadband Competition -- Part III

benton logo

Levers to Intensify Broadband Competition -- Part II Telco Upgrades

Given the current market, what are the appropriate government levers to intensify competition at this part of the cycle? Earlier, I explored spectrum policy. Now let’s look at the second leverage point; improving the economics of a telco upgrade.

benton logo

Who Has Authority Over the Internet?

There’s some weeks when you just can’t avoid the fact that we just don’t know who, if anyone, has any authority to regulate Internet communications. From the courts, to the Federal Communications Commission to Bellevue, Washington, as Warner Wolf says, "Let's go to the videotape!"

benton logo

Levers to Intensify Broadband Competition -- Part I Spectrum

Given the current market, what are the appropriate government levers to intensify competition at this part of the cycle?

benton logo

Where does broadband competition come from?

There are two related answers. The first goes to the nature of the competitive enterprise and the second involves an economic equation.

benton logo

What do we want broadband competition to accomplish?

Much has been written on competition and broadband. My comments represent a progress report and work in progress from the field, derived from game theory and lessons I learned in the government with both the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and the National Broadband Plan, as well as working with broadband competition initiatives, such as Gig.U and Republic Wireless. The trial and many errors of my own work have led me to believe in the following bottom line: that the highest priority for government broadband competition policy ought to be to lower input costs for adjacent market competition and network upgrades. I believe the greatest opportunity is to create a virtuous cycle of upgraded mobile stimulating low-end broadband to upgrade, which in turn causes an upgrade of high-end broadband which, by using its assets to enter mobile, accelerates the need for mobile to accelerate its upgrade further.

benton logo

Elections, Objections, and SNL Host Selections

This week saw a flurry of news regarding the 2016 presidential race, raising new questions about the relationship between presidential candidates and the media.

benton logo

Senate Passes CISA: Robbie's Round-Up (10/26-30)

This week's top stories:
On October 28, the Senate passed the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA, S. 754) by a vote of 74 to 21.
European Parliament Adopts Network Neutrality Regulations -- With Controversial Loopholes
Numerous Congressional hearings concerning FCC decisions and future communications policy

benton logo

Will Rick Santorum Be The Next Host Of Saturday Night Live?

When Donald Trump serves as the host of Saturday Night Live (SNL) on November 7, won’t all the other candidates get equal time to be hosts of the show as well? The answer is no, but some of the other Republican candidates for President may well claim a right to receive air time on a number of NBC stations. This post will discuss the law surrounding Trump’s appearance. A forthcoming post will discuss political broadcasting law more broadly.

benton logo

Universal Broadband Adoption: Now the Hard Work Begins

To get the last of the United States’ late adopters online will take more than infrastructure. It’ll require deep investment in digital education and painstaking one-on-one work that ultimately convinces offline Americans that the Internet is worth their time.

benton logo

The FCC Makes Some Moves: Robbie's Round-Up (10/19-23)

This week's top stories:
The FCC released two critical incentive auction items: The Application Procedures Public Notice and the final opening bid prices for broadcast stations: The Application Procedures Public Notice and the final opening bid prices for broadcast stations.
The FCC launched an investigation into the pricing practices of AT&T and Verizon for special access service.
FCC Takes Next Big Steps In Reducing Inmate Calling Rates

benton logo

Who Owns the Broadband Pipes and Who Gets Service: Robbie's Round-Up (October 12-16, 2015)

This week's top stories:
Cable Ownership Consolidation Under Review: Charter's purchase of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks
IP Transition Update and Universal Broadband Deployment

benton logo

Is Change Here to Stay?

A barrage of consolidation proposals flooding the FCC and the Department of Justice since April proves that “consolidation mania” is alive and well—and actually accelerating. What we are witnessing is a game of steady monopolization of broadband markets across the land and a tit-for-tat consolidation in cable and broadcast for control over programming. Wall Street is profiting from all the jousting for position, the media follows it as a spectator sport among industry behemoths, and the public interest—things like consumer prices, a truly Open Internet, diversity of content, and real competition—well, it just plain hemorrhages. Let’s briefly look at just two of the merger transactions currently being discussed.

benton logo

International Agreements, International Disagreements: Robbie's Round-Up (October 5-9, 2015)

Some of the biggest stories impacting the US this week came to us from abroad. Most stem from uncertainties and the uncharted future of Internet governance. The big question: How do countries work together to come to international agreements to ensure prosperity, free speech, privacy, and freedom in the seemingly borderless, free-flow Internet economy? Some are deeply concerned with where we are headed. Paul Rosenzweig said, “Something is rotten at the core of our conception of Internet governance. Almost unnoticed, nations are trying to impose -- often successfully -- sovereign borders and legal demands on a digital realm that is inherently borderless. Left unchecked, this instinct to create sovereign barriers risks fracturing the Web in ways that will jeopardize its economic, political, and social utility.” This instinct is also increasing the importance of implementing smart, fair agreements on Internet policy. This week was all about those agreements and those disagreements, and the impact they could have on communications in the US.

Syndicate content