There have been three broad themes to the FCC under Chairman Tom Wheeler, reinforced in his remarks at the recent CTIA trade show: more competition, more spectrum, and an open, non-discriminatory Internet. The significant items on the FCC docket that play into these themes--the pending AT&T-Direct TV and Comcast-TWC deals, the 600 MHz incentive auctions, and the ongoing discussions on network neutrality--show that the FCC has taken a lot on, and has had a lot thrown at it. An intransigent Congress and the upcoming mid-term elections are an additional wildcard that could impact how and how quickly these major items are addressed.
Among programmers, Discovery Communications has been perhaps the most vocal critic of the proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable. However, absent from Discovery's quest to stop the proposed union has been its top in-house lobbyist, Alexa Verveer.
The success of the mobile broadband industry is due in part to a light regulatory touch that has encouraged massive investments and resulted in one of the most successful industries of all time. This industry, however, is still in the relatively early stages and will grow and evolve in ways that cannot be predicted. It will be successful to the extent that unnecessary regulatory strangleholds, especially ones that treat wireless and wireline equally, do not hold it back.
The City of Baltimore expanded broadband service choices for local residents and businesses and has hired a consulting firm to, among other things, explore ways through and around a franchise agreement signed with Comcast that runs through 2016.
Telefónica agreed to acquire Vivendi's Brazilian broadband business GVT for just over €7 billion ($9 billion) in cash and stocks, following three weeks of exclusive negotiations.
More than 90 former AT&T cellular-industry partners have banded together to petition the FCC against the telco's proposed purchase of DirecTV, while Netflix also sent a notice to the commission noting that powerful conditions restricting paid peering should be put in place. Conversely, the still-powerful enterprise-technology company Microsoft told the commission it supports the merger.
A bill renewing the ability of satellite operators to take broadcast signals from far-away stations and deliver them to about 1.5 million rural subscribers without local access to various broadcast outlets has passed the Senate by voice vote.
Speaking Tuesday at future-of-television hearings conducted by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in Gatineau, Quebec, Phil Lind, executive regulatory VP and vice chairman of Rogers, said disaggregating U.S. channels such as AMC and A&E would cause their backers to pull out of the Canadian pay-TV market completely.
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) is expected to withdraw an effort to include in the pending satellite reauthorization bill rules that would give the FCC greater oversight over pay-TV customer service.
The Competitive Carriers Association is urging the FCC to reconsider its rules for triggering when bidding for next year's planned incentive auction of 600 MHz broadcast TV spectrum will split into "unreserved" airwaves and "reserved" spectrum set aside for smaller carriers.