Tales of the Sausage Factory

Arise Ye Independent Cable Programers! The FCC Wants To Hear Why The Current Cable Programming Rules Suck Rocks.

Well, it took nearly a year since the FCC committed to reforming the leased access and carriage complaint processes as part of its Adelphia Transaction Order, but the wait proved worth it. On June 15, the FCC released a notice of proposed rulemaking asking all the right questions and opening the door for major changes in two critical but dysfunctional laws designed to break the stranglehold big cable companies have over cable programming: cable commercial leased access (47 U.S.C. 532) and the prohibition on favoring affiliated programming (aka “carriage complaint process”) (47 U.S.C. 536).

Done right, these two laws can usher in a new era of independent programming by giving programmers access to cable systems on fair terms. As you might imagine from the current cable programming universe — in which we get 30 different flavors of HBO (affiliated with time Warner) and however many Comcast-affiliated channels Comcast chooses to carry regardless of how few people actually watch, but you can’t find local programming or programming that competes with Comcast or Time Warner programming — the FCC has done a rather crappy job of implementing these rules since Congress passed the current versions in 1992. Nevertheless, wild-eyed optimist and occassionally successful crusader for lost causes that Iam, I think we have a real opportunity here to make these rules work. All it will take is for the progressives and conservatives who like to whine about how the media is all biased one way or another to get off their patooties and actually file something with the FCC. Then all the progressive and conservative would-be programmers will have their chance to sell their programming directly to audiences rather than negotiating with the likes of Brian Roberts, Sumner Redstone or Rupert Murdoch.

Notice appeared in the Federal Register on July 18, which makes comments due September 4 and reply comments due September 21. For those without calendars, this translates to the day after Labor Day and the day immediately before Yom Kippur. So I confess I begged for and got and extension. Now, comments are due September 11 and reply comments due October 12. The relevant docket number for those of you who file (and you know you all should!) is MB Docket No. 07-42.

So tired of watching crap you hate on cable, and wondering why people can’t get good programming on despite having a gazillion channels? See below . . . .

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

FCC Responds With Fear and Trembling to My Scolding on Tardiness and Releases Two Additional Items

[Assume aspect of guiding light, hero, and all around object of devotion, Stephen Colbert]

Obviously stung by my scathing critique of the FCC’s failure to release the promised Notice of Inquiry on broadband industry practices, the FCC has now issued the promised NOI (technically, it issued a few hours before my post went live, but I know Stephen would want me to count it as a “kill”).

As an obvious additional attempt to curry my favor, the FCC has released two additional items that address long standing criticisms by myself and others, that the FCC’s annual “Broadband is Bustin’ Out All Over!” Report (aka the Section 706 Report on Deployment of Advanced Telecommunications Services to All Americans) dramaticly overstates the status of broadband competition in the country. In addition to the annual Notice of Inquiry, the FCC has also released this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on how to improve the data collection and reporting process.

[End Colbert channeling]
More details below . . .

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Happy Birthday Federal Register

Yesterday, the Federal Register turned 70. While unknown to most normal folks, the Federal Register (or “fed reg” as we admin lawyers like to call it) is the official publication for the U.S. Administrative state. Just about all major administrative undertaking such as rulemakings, inquiries, and consent decrees become official and/or final when published in fed reg. Many a young associate or paralegal has the unenviable task (albeit made easier by electronic databases and online access) to keep a watch on fed reg for publication of any documents of potential relevants or to track administrative deadlines.

So happy birthday Fed Reg!

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My Thoughts Exactly

Benevolent Older Sibling helps us remember who we are

Here’s a story about government efforts already underway to develop national ID cards (that contain biometric info, natch).

Somehow this tidbit got past Winston Smith at Minitrue, in case yzall are innarested:

On Jan. 19, the agency will hold a public meeting at the Potomac Center Plaza in downtown Washington to discuss policy, privacy and security concerns associated with the development of the new ID card standard. Anyone who wants to attend must preregister by Jan. 11 by e-mailing Sara Caswell, a NIST official, at sara@nist.gov, according to a notice in yesterday’s Federal Register. Questions regarding registration can be directed to Caswell at (301) 975-4634.

Posted in I Fear These Things, My Thoughts Exactly | Tagged | 1 Comment (Comments closed)
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