Andrew Schwartzman

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Beware: The UHF Discount Is Rising From The Dead

Location:
Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC, 20554, United States
Recommendation:
3

The ultra high frequency (UHF) Discount is the zombie of media policy, likely to rise from the dead this week at the Federal Communications Commission’s April 20, 2017 meeting. The likely restoration of the UHF Discount raises interesting legal issues, since no one disputes that there the policy rationale for its adoption has long since disappeared. Those arguments will play out at the Federal Communications Commission and, perhaps, in the courts, but this post is about the colorful history of the UHF Discount and why restoring it would likely lead to vastly increased concentration of control of TV stations in this country. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has made plain that he intends to relax or repeal almost all of the Commission’s restrictions on how many media properties a broadcaster can own or operate. However, the very first item on his list, which he has slated for expedited consideration, actually restores a very important, if seemingly arcane, provision that his predecessor had deleted - the so-called UHF discount.

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Why Radical Deregulation Is Happening So Fast At The FCC

Location:
Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC, 20554, United States
Recommendation:
2

President Donald Trump has moved quickly to use Executive Orders and other plenary powers to deliver on some of his major campaign promises on issues such as immigration, the Dakota Access pipeline and appointment of a conservative Supreme Court Justice. For the most part, however, his promised deregulatory assault on what his chief strategist Steven Bannon calls the “Administrative State” has not advanced as quickly. Hundreds of top-level positions at Executive Branch agencies remain vacant, and the process of rescinding regulatory policies can be cumbersome and time consuming. There is at least one important exception - media and telecommunications regulation at the Federal Communications Commission. Within weeks after taking office, newly-designated FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has moved aggressively and with unprecedented speed to overturn many recent FCC decisions and changed some longstanding policies. While some of these actions are more symbolic in nature, others have had immediate and significant impact. Many more such actions are likely to be unveiled in the weeks, not to mention months, to come.

Broadband Over Power Lines -- We Really Mean It This Time

When telecom engineers are shooting the breeze, they often use the phrase "Project Angel" as a punchline. For almost 20 years, AT&T (and its predecessor company, also called ...

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Globalstar's Christmas Present

Location:
Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC, 20554, United States
Recommendation:
2

On December 22, the Federal Communications Commission gave a satellite operator named Globalstar a Christmas present of sorts, along with a lump of coal. The events leading up to this action present a case study that offers insights into the physical, economic, legal, and political forces that shape telecommunications policy. Globalstar’s inability to effectuate its new venture is an object lesson for incumbent and would-be “low Earth orbit” (LEO) operators.

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The Trump FCC’s Toolkit For Deregulating Media and Telecommunications

Although there are many articles and blog posts discussing likely policy changes in the media and telecommunications space, it is far too early to know exactly when and what ...

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Lifeline Reform Reaches the Home Stretch

Recommendation:
3

The Federal Communications Commission is likely to vote on its Lifeline reform proceeding at its March 31 public meeting, including its plans to expand Lifeline from supporting only voice telephone service to include broadband Internet access. Because I previously delved into the history of the Lifeline program since its inception during the Reagan Administration, this post will review the policy justification for Lifeline and then focus on some of the specific issues the Federal Communications Commission is likely to consider.

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Sisyphus, We’re Still Waiting

Recommendation:
3

A year and a half ago, this blog discussed the “Sisyphean Task” imposed upon the Federal Communications Commission to engage in a never-ending review of its broadcast ownership rules. If you are wondering what has happened since then, the answer is “very little,” in large part because of the odd lassitude of a federal appeals court. This is going to change in the coming months.

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The Legal Underpinnings of The Prison Phone Call Debate

Location:
Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC, 20554, United States

You may well have read about the Federal Communications Commission’s vote last August to cap rates for interstate phone calls placed by prison inmates. Understandably, most of the coverage of this controversy has focused upon what the FCC did, rather than the legal underpinnings of its actions. This post will address some of those legal questions.

Groups Want better Look at Verizon-SpectrumCo Marketing Agreements

Location:
Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC, 20554, United States
Recommendation:
3

In the Federal Communications Commission’s review of Verizon’s acquisition of spectrum currently owned by cable television companies, Verizon Wireless and the cable companies files copies of commercial agreements that provide the parties to those agreements with the ability to act as agents selling one another’s services. The companies claim that the agreements are neither anticompetitive nor relevant to this proceeding, claims that cannot be evaluated without reviewing the agreements themselves. The agreements are subject to the stringent confidentiality provisions of the protective orders issued by the FCC in this proceeding. But the companies filed them with redactions concerning pricing and compensation.

UPDATED: MAP Requests One More Round of Broadband Plan Comments

Recommendation:
3

The Media Access Project has requested the Federal Communications Commission allow the public an opportunity to submit comments addressing issues which have arisen during the course of the FCC's consideration of the National Broadband Plan docket.

Reform Universal Service for Recipients, Not Carriers, Groups Tell FCC

Recommendation:
3

The Media Access Project, representing a number of urban and rural public service organizations, filed comments on universal service reform and the goal of universal broadband. The groups urge the Federal Communications Commission to not consider Universal Service Fund (USF) issues solely from the perspective of carriers currently receiving USF disbursements. The interest that USF must serve, they argue, is not the parochial interest of any service provider or class of carriers, but the public interest.

Today's Quote 12.03.09

Recommendation:
4

"This is the most important media merger since Lucy married Desi."
-- Andrew Schwartzman, Media Access Project on Comcast-NBC

Consumer Organizations Request Improvements in FCC's Broadband Data Collection

Recommendation:
3

Free Press, the Consumer Federation of America, New America Foundation, the Media Access Project, Public Knowledge and Consumers Union have sent Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski a letter offering a set of proposals that reflect both the chairman's desire to run a "fact-based, data-driven agency" and their priorities for policies specific to open items related to broadband data.