Tales of the Sausage Factory

Broadcasters and Broadway Challenge White Spaces Order, Standing Hijinks To Ensue.

Unsurprisingly, the NAB and MSTV have filed a Petition for Review with the D.C. Circuit to try to get last November’s Order permitting unlicensed use of the white spaces overruled. As is the norm, the Petition merely recites the basics of jurisdiction and the general allegation that the Order is “arbitrary, capricious and otherwise not in accordance with law.”

Of perhaps greater interest, Broadcasting and Cable reports that a coalition of Broadway groups is filing in the Second Circuit.

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

We Are Finalists for the 2008 Weblog Best Technology Blog! Go us!

My shameless begging last November paid off!

The 2008 Weblog Awards

Yes, we here at Tales of the Sausage Factory and Wetmachine generally are delighted, astounded, humbled and whatever else one says at this juncture to make the final cut for nominees as Weblog’s “Best Technology Blog of 2008.” Given that (a) Engadget has apparently won in this category every year since they started doing this in 2003, (b) Both TechCrunch and Ars Technica also do policy and have real journalists and stuff, and (c) a quick scan of all the other titles reveals that we are probably the only nominated site maintained by amateurs doing this in addition to our full time jobs, I totally expect for us to get utterly creamed.

Nevertheless, as whining pathetically worked to get us nominated, I am going to continue this fine tradition and see if it gets us a win. So I want to urge everyone who reads this to please, please, puh-leaze go vote for us! Polls close at 5 p.m. EST on Tuesday, January 13. Any questions, please read the Weblog Award FAQ.

Thanks all, and stay tuned . . . . .

Posted in General, My Thoughts Exactly, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , | 2 Comments (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

Section 616: The Wheels of Justice Roll (albeit slowly) At the FCC.

Back last November, the FCC considered reforming various rules designed to limit cable market power. While the FCC did adopt rules limiting the size of cable operators to 30% of the market and lowering the rates for leased access, the FCC failed to move forward on reform of its rules for how independent programmers can file complaints against cable operators for unfairly discriminating against them based on affiliation or lack thereof.

But now things are looking up. Last Friday, the Media Bureau addressed several pending complaints and designated them for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. Unsurprisingly, the NFL got the media attention, but the more typical case was that of WealthTV — and it is that case that is therefore likely to have more long term impact on the industry (not that the NFL and MASN cases weren’t important as precedent).

This doesn’t eliminate the need for an Order that would clarify how the process works and set a reasonable time table for complainants and defendants, but it does help to move things along for those who dared to trust the process by filing a complaint, and may put heart into the rest of the independent programming industry to hang in there and keep trying.

More below . . .

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

The Return of the Great Google Overlords and I Do Another Rant On Why Citizen Movements Are Citizen Driven.

I suppose it was inevitable. Let Google enter the policy arena and suddenly that’s all anyone will ever think about. Never mind that Media Access Project and New America Foundation first participated in this policy exercise back in the spectrum task force days in 2002, that we mobilized around this issue (and I blogged on it) back in 2004 before Google or Microsoft showed up, or that New America Foundation has published some ungodly amount of content on this well before Google even had a wireless policy. No, like last summer and the 700 MHz auction, or the 2006 Net Neutrality fight, it is all about the Great Google Overlords blah blah blah. Because everyone knows that no one in Washington really cares about the public interest groups and its all about refereeing industry food fights.

I should note that the utter refusal of the trade press (and others who should know better) leads them to consistently screw up on where the Commission actually goes. Flashback to last November, and I defy you to find any oh-so wise insider with the cynicism that passes for wisdom these days who thought for a moment that a Kevin Martin-led FCC would even consider our complaint about Comcast blocking BitTorrent. When Martin defied expectation and put it out on notice, no one thought we had a chance of getting an actual judgment in our favor. And of course, when we did win, it didn’t disprove anything, since it was either all the work of the Great Google Overlords or a clever reverse fake by Martin to screw Net Neutrality.

I’d let it go as excellent political cover (since God knows most industry lobbyists make the same mistake) and a reason why folks should read my blog to get some balance, but the pernicious myth that no one in Washington cares about anything but major corporate players is one of those things that becomes self-fulfilling prophecy when regular citizens buy into it. The fact is that decisionmakers and policy folks are all over the map here in DC. You will find people who are wholly owned subsidiaries, people who are driven exclusively by ideology and — surprising to many — a large number of folks in both parties trying to do what they think is the right thing given all the information they have and what they think is right. I class all five FCC Commissioners, even the ones with whom I most frequently disagree, as being in this category.

Does it matter that Google is involved? Of course. Not only is it a question of available lobbying resources, but also a question of whether anyone is likely to take advantage of the rule change. That’s not always determinative, but it certainly helps. As the Frontline debacle shows, FCC Commissioners need to worry about what happens if they guess wrong, while still finding the courage to try new things when required. Seeing a company like Google come gives a certain amount of reassurance and makes it a lot easier for commissioners to beleive us public interest folks when we say “yes, open the white spaces to unlicensed and it will get used.”

But for Om Malik over at Giga Om and other well informed press folks to make their judgments about the white spaces based on Google’s involvement or non-involvement is as ridiculous as the worshippers of the Gods of the Marketplace deciding based on ideology without regard to actual evidence. Google’s financial interests are obvious, their interest here long standing, and their latest outreach effort no more or less noxious than those of any other company. In this case, they have the advantage of showcasing organizations that came on the scene (like MAP and NAF) long before they did.

As I have said before and will say many times again, citizen’s movements must be citizen driven. That is their strength, and why so many pundits and lobbyists who mistake lazy cynicism for experience and wisdom seem utterly incapable of understanding. But as long we believe it we will continue to change the world — and reporters like Malik will continue to be smugly wrong about what to expect.

Stay tuned . . . .

Posted in Spectrum, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment (Comments closed)

My Thoughts Exactly

Libby trial reflection: “My pencil is dull and my handwriting stinks”

Isadore Barmash, who passed away last November at the age of 84, was a longtime reporter for the New York Times. Political junkies may be forgiven for not being familiar with his extensive body of work, for Barmash’s beat was retail business, not politics. He had a particular interest in the apparel industry (he had worked at Women’s Wear Daily before joining the Times). His articles were found most often not in the front section of the paper, but deep in the business pages. I myself don’t care about fashion, and when I read a newspaper I usually skip the business stories. So I’m not the kind of guy who would be expected to notice Barmash’s byline. But I used to follow Barmash’s work because for a period in from the late 60’s through 1975, when I was in high school and college, he had series of front-page-of-the-New-York-Times articles that I found absolutely compelling.

His subject was my father.

I thought of Barmash a few weeks ago when Tim Russert’s testimony at the Lewis Libby trial was reported. Under oath, Russert said that when he talked to senior government officials, everything was “off the record” unless the official explicitly agreed to go “on the record.” People who value the role of journalism in a democracy were appalled by Russert’s admission, but attentive students of contemporary American “journalism” were not surprised. Dan Froomkin rightly said, “That’s not reporting, that’s enabling.” Russert’s sworn testimony made patently clear that what he does for a living is not journalism properly understood, but rather a form of court stenography served up in a a faux-journalism format.

Below the fold, what Barmash, a real journalist, told my father about “on the record” and “off the record.”

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Posted in "A Republic, if you can keep it", My Thoughts Exactly | Also tagged , | 1 Comment (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

I'm Speaking Tomorrow (9/13/06) On the Hill

We’ve been down a few days for technical problems. Sorry and welcome back.

Tomorrow (9/13/06), I’ll be speaking at an event sponsored by Americans for a Secure Internet on what to do about ICANN, the Internet Governance Forum and upcomming meeting in Athens, and what’s wrong with making the rest of the world dance “the macarena” or lose their ccTLD. (Although you can get more recent information from the Internet Governance Project, or ICANNWATCH, or Susan Crawford’s bog but none of them reference the macarena!)

The event is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. at the House Rayburn Building B-340. I append the information from the flyer below. Here are a few links to my other ICANN blog entries:
Tiering, It’s Not Just for Telcos Anymore
My Take on WSIS and DNS
The Verisign Lawsuit: More Than Just Sitefinder
If ICANN Regulated Cars (real old)
______________________________________________________
AMERICAN FOR A SECURE INTERNET

Buffet Lunch and Panel Discussion

Does the U.N. Want to Govern the Internet?

Hosted by Americans for a Secure Internet

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

12:30-2 PM

Rayburn B-340

Last November, the Congress passed a Joint Resolution affirming that the current structure of Internet management—with U.S. oversight—was working well and should be maintained without interference from the United Nations.

But the UN is not so easily dissuaded. They’re meeting in Athens at the end of October to plan an array of new initiatives that could clash with ICANN’s management of the Internet.

Join Americans for a Secure Internet for a lunch buffet and panel discussion on Wednesday, September 13, to learn how changes to current Internet governance could compromise the integrity of its infrastructure, and the continued growth of eCommerce.

Topics include:

* The U.N.’s IGF and its plan for a prolonged campaign to gain control of the Internet and remove America from its dominant position
* How the IGF’s proposals create real barriers to eCommerce by turning the Internet over to a collection of foreign governments, including those that practice massive censorship like China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia
* How the Internet needs a “manager” and not a “governor”—and the difference between the two
* The current ICANN arrangement and how it allows for distributed control of the Internet
* The threat to technical development and improvement of the Internet by trapping its management inside a multitude of new agencies and programs

Get to know these issues that will be discussed at the IGF meeting and the potential effects. All Congressional staff involved in technology and eCommerce issues should attend.

Panelists include:

Ambassador David Gross
Ambassador, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs
U.S. Department of State

Harold Feld
Senior Vice President
Media Access Project

Brian Cute
Vice President, Government Relations
VeriSign

Steve DelBianco (moderator)
Executive Director
NetChoice

RSVP
If you plan to attend, please RSVP to Melissa Moskal at mailto:mmoskal@actonline.org or 202.420.7484.

About ASI
Americans for a Secure Internet is a coalition of trade associations, public policy think tanks, businesses and individuals who share a deep concern about the future of Internet security. Visit www.protectingthenet.org for more information.

Posted in Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , | 1 Comment (Comments closed)
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