On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the reauthorization of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA). This Act is the most recent version in a series of authorizations dating back to the 1980s that governs the carriage of broadcast signals by satellite television providers. The current Act contains several provisions that are set to expire at the end of 2014, and this hearing addressed whether or not provisions in this Act should be extended and for how long.
The "Consumer Choice in Video Devices Act" Would Move Set-Top Competition Backward
November has been a promising month for the prospect of reform in the video marketplace, with Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller's (D-WV) ambitious Consumer Choice in Online Video Act. While we're eager to see how Congress responds to Chairman Rockefeller's bill, we're also keeping an eye on video-related activity on the other side of the Hill.
Back in September, Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH), the Vice-Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology introduced H.R. 3196, the Consumer Choice in Video Devices Act, a bill that would amend the Communications Act to restrict FCC authority for adopting certain rules or policies relating to multichannel video programming distributors (such as cable operators). In particular, this bill targets Section 629 of the Telecom Act and would end the "integration ban," an FCC requirement that cable operator-supplied set-top boxes use some of the same technology--currently CableCARD--that third-party device makers use.
Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Rockefeller’s bill takes an ambitious approach toward the video marketplace of the future.
Tuesday, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (S-WV) introduced the Consumer Choice in Online Video Act, which seeks to address the anticompetitive and anti-consumer forces at work in today’s video marketplace. This bill would prevent cable providers from engaging in discriminatory measures against online video operators and would ensure that online video providers can access valuable programming. As we’ve said numerous times before, the current state of the video marketplace is outdated and in need of reform.You’ve got incumbent distributors, broadcasters, cable providers, network affiliates, with relationships locked into place and codified in US law. This arrangement benefits the incumbents but does nothing for innovation, competition, or consumer choice.Tech companies tease the marketplace with hints of new video devices on the horizon but time and again consumers are left empty-handed and wanting. Technology isn’t what’s holding back the marketplace, the outdated video policies are.
As communications technology changes, it is important that all
Americans have access to reliable communications service. Rural America cannot get left behind.
Sunday, June 23 to Wednesday, June 26, 2013 participants representing more than
500 local, regional, and national advocacy organizations gathered outside of DC
to participate in the National Rural Assembly.
The Assembly works to build a stronger, more vibrant rural America and
during the conference attendees discussed rural policies regarding health care,
education, community development, and broadband deployment.
Tuesday, the Senate Commerce Committee held its first FCC oversight hearing of
the year. All 5 Commissioners attended and Senators discussed their
laundry list of priorities and pet projects. While Chairman Jay Rockefeller
(D-WV) pressed hard on funding for FirstNet, there were several other topics important
to the public interest addressed in the hearing.
week (January 7-11), Las Vegas hosted the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show, the
annual trade show where tech companies present their latest gadgets and
gizmos. Speculation about which company
will have the largest, sharpest, thinnest, displays or the latest bells and
whistles for their mobile handsets dominates the tech world for weeks leading
up to CES, and the show officially begins the conversation for consumer tech
for the year. Walking the convention
center floor and playing with the newest in consumer tech is a tech
fanboy/fangirl’s dream come true. Public
Knowledge sent a delegation to the show this year and was encouraged by the
energy of the attendants not only with regard to tech devices but especially
toward tech policy.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on
Communications and Technology held an oversight hearing on the implementation
of spectrum auctions in an effort to meet the growing demand for wireless
broadband services and fund a nationwide public safety network. The five FCC Commissioners testified before
the panel on the status of the auctions and their interpretations on how the
auctions will free up additional spectrum and promote competition. These auctions were part of the Middle Class
Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012.
For background on the spectrum provisions included in this legislation,
Feld’s recap of the legislation from February of this year.
As we process
the FCC’s approval of the deal between Verizon, Comcast, and other cable
companies, it’s worth taking a closer look at the actual agreements, based on
the details that the Department of Justice (DOJ) recently released in its
analysis of the deal. Although the DOJ
expressed concerns about the deals it still decided to approve it.
August 16, 2012 the Department of Justice announced its approval
of the Verizon/SpectrumCo Deal, a disappointing outcome for those of us
fighting for greater competition in the broadband marketplace. Check out Jodie Griffin’s thorough
analysis for a full rundown of Public Knowledge’s concerns with the DOJ
approval, including the conditions imposed on Verizon and the cable companies.
Congressional Committee hearings have the tendency
to come across as a bit dry at times [read, a lot of the time]. Members of Congress attempt humor that falls
flat, drop references to their local sports team, and respectfully disagree
with their colleagues about legislation or Constitutional interpretation. The witnesses provide testimony from the
perspective of their organizations/industries, take subtle jabs at the opposing
position, and answer Members’ questions, or listen to Members use the majority
of their question time to make drawn out positions statements.
However, yesterday’s Senate Commerce hearing on
“The Cable Act at 20” was different. It became
so feisty at one point that I expected popcorn and soft drinks to go along with
9, 2012 the Senate Judiciary Committee held an oversight hearing of the Office
of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC) with Victoria
Espinel as the sole witness. This
position coordinates the work done by different government agencies to combat
intellectual property theft. The May 9
hearing was the committee’s third oversight hearing on IP enforcement. The hearing was nothing to write home about,
which was unfortunate for a few reasons.
First of all, it was primarily a Democratic Senatorial event. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the
committee’s Ranking Member was the only Republican senator present, and he left
after his opening statement. The other
senators present apart from Grassley and Chairman Leahy (D-VT) were retiring
Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI), Chris Coons (D-DE), Al Franken (D-MN), and Sheldon
Whitehouse (D-RI). Second, the two stars
of the show were counterfeit pharmaceuticals and China.
Judiciary Committee hearing to discuss to the hotly debated H.R. 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was flawed
on so many levels. Even watching the
hearing online was flawed, which is ironic because you would think it would be
easy to obtain a legally accessible, good quality video stream on a hearing
about online piracy. Once you were
finally able to view the hearing, you realized the whole thing was a setup.
As America returns to work from the Labor Day weekend and as our country faces an uncertain forecast on jobs for the unemployed, the Department of Justice’s (DoJ) lawsuit to block the AT&T/T-Mobile merger was welcome news given that an estimated 20,000 Americans would lose their jobs if it was approved.
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