Tales of the Sausage Factory

Stevens Bill Score Card Pre-Mark Up

And what a mark up it will be! Senators have proposed hundreds of amendments (more than 250 at one point, but now down to something over a hundred as deals get done). Meanwhile, the Stevens Bill itself has undergone significant rewrite. You can find the final pre-mark up draft at Jim Baller’s site here. For comparison, you can read about the Democratic substitute here (and my brief summary of same here).

Below, a brief score card on some issues I singled out previously: Opening broadcast white spaces (still in, but facing a “poison pill” amendment from DeMint (R-SC)), program access (dropped by Stevens); Broadcast flag (sadly alive and well); Munibroadband (much improved, thanks in no small part to Jim Baller and the coalition of tech folks, muni orgs, and public interest folks put together by Jim Kohlenberger); and, of course, net neutrality (brought up to COPE levels, with some flavoring added to try to buy off the Christian conservatives).

Most importantly, the telcos have inserted a very nasty joker in the deck, known as “Section 1004.” This Section is designed to rig any post-legislation appeal by giving the D.C. Circuit exclusive jurisdiction over all things FCC. This would be a catastrophe not merely for network neutrality, but for media ownership and just about any other provision of law (and therefore merits a post of its own).

More details below . . . .

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Bracing for the House COPE Vote

The House will likely vote tomorrow (Fri. June 9) on the Communications Opportunity Enhancement Act (COPE). In fact, the vote may come as early as tonight.

According to the report from the Rules Committee, the House has set debate for one hour and approved a number of amendments. The critical amendments for network neutrality are the Markey amendment (D-MA) and an anti-trust savings amendment introduced by Lamar Smith (R-TX) that clarifies that COPE will not preempt anti-trust law (NB: This is not the much stronger Sensenbrenner-Conyer Bill which passed out of Judiciary.

As discussed below, the Rules Committee (which responds to the House Republican leadership) has done its best to stack the odds against NN. Unsurprising, since Speaker Hastert (along with Commerce Chair Barton and Telecommuniations Subcommittee Chair Upton) support COPE and oppose NN. Expect the Smith Amendment to pass, the Markey Amendment to lose, and COPE to pass. Public pressure may still swing some members, but the odds of swinging enough members are vanishingly small.

As I wrote after the loss at the Commerce Committee, we citizens will make the difference. We have gained much ground in the last two months. We now carry the battle to the Senate, where the rules help curb the power of one or two majority leaders to force through legislation.

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Latest on COPE and Latest Video

From what I have heard and seen on the House Whip Schedule, the vote on COPE will likely take place this Friday (6/9). On Wednesday June 7, the House Rules Committee will determine what, if any, amendments members may offer. For example, they may or may not allow Markey to offer his Network Neutrality Act of 2006, or allow Sensenbrenner to offer the version of the Internet Freedom and Non-Discrimination Act that passed the Judiciary Committee as an amendment. After that, the package goes to the floor for debate and a vote.

The smart money expects passage of COPE because the House Republican leadership backs it and enough Dems will defect to provide a comfortable margin. OTOH, public pressure keeps pushing members to change their position to support NN. Not that smart money or conventional wisdom believes in democracy anymore, but I am hopeful we can hand them another surprise.

Meanwhile, Moby has prepared this video that tells you how you can call your representative and tell him or her to support net neutrality.

Remember, don’t make Moby cry! Support Net Neutrality and help spank the telcos!

Stay tuned . . .

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Tales of the Sausage Factory: Clear Channel Settlement Signals Indecency Running Out Of Steam

The FCC and Clear Channel reached a settlement on all pending indecency proceedings involving Clear Channel. You can read a copy of the Consent Decree and the statements of the various Commissioners here. As usual, I’m more interested in what it means. To me, this says “the Bush Administration wants indecency to go away as an issue.” Surprised?

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Tales of the Sausage Factory: Indecent bandwagon rolls on

Well the House and Senate have been busy little, ahem, beavers on the indecency front. The surprise is the provisions on media ownership. Will they survive a House vote over the opposition of the Republican leadership? Will Bush veto indecency regulation to save his buddies in big media? Stay tuned to Survivor: Washington.

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Tales of The Sausage Factory: CBS caves again for Bush

For those of you haven’t followed, Bush and the Republican leadership fought off an broad attempt by Congress to roll back the national television ownership cap to 35%. The compromise was to freeze the limit at 39%, which means that Viacom (parent of CBS) and News Corp. (parent of Fox) don’t have to sell off any stations. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) says that CBS has paid the administration back for this favor by refusing to sell time to an anti-bush ad on the Superbowl.

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Tales of the Sausage Factory: Golden Globes, former presidents and media ownership

The Reagans, the miniseries originally created by CBS and then moved to Showtime, has been nominated for two Golden Globe Awards. Not bad for a series that CBS dumped to its sister property Showtime on the grounds that it didn’t have enough balance to air on broadcast TV. But was moving the Reagans off broadcast an artistic decision, or a financial decision by Viacom to curry political favor at a critical time.

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