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An Adventure in Bureaucracy

June 30, 2010 Copyright Office , Regulation

One of my research assignments as an intern here at PK involves looking at the organization and function of the Copyright Office, which exists as a part of the Library of Congress. In this research, I wanted to consider the various rules and regulations governing the Office and the Library in general. It turns out that, in addition to the relevant Federal statutes, the Library’s rules and the Office’s rules published in the Federal Register, and the Copyright Office’s “Compendium” of internal practices, all of which are available to the public online, there’s another body of regulations that are harder to find. These Library of Congress Regulations (“LCR”) are legally binding on the Library, but take some digging to find.

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Kerry, Other Ds, Defend FCC Going Ahead on Broadband Authority NOI.

June 15, 2010 Broadband , FCC , Network Neutrality , Regulation

Dems on the Hill are waking up to round two on the fight over the future of broadband. Specifically, Senators Kerry (D-MA), Cantwell (D-WA), Udall (D-NM) and Wyden (D-OR) sent this letter to Senators Inouye (D-HI) and Cochran (R-MS) — the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriation Committee — arguing that no one should use the appropriations process to prevent the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from moving forward with its proposed Notice Of Inquiry (NOI) asking what to do for legal authority for the National Broadband Plan and to protect consumers now that the U.S. Appeals Court for the D.C. Circuit has gutted the FCC’s previous theory of authority. Here’s the money quote:

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Revamping Retransmission Consent: Cable Customers as Company Collateral

June 9, 2010 FCC , MVPD , Regulation

The broadcast “retransmission consent” regulatory structure isn’t exactly the hottest topic of the moment, so you might wonder why PK recently filed Reply Comments (and joined the Petition for Rulemaking) urging the FCC to revamp its rules governing negotiations between over-the-air broadcasters and cable companies.

Getting the retransmission consent rules right is important if the FCC wants to protect consumer choice by ensuring a vibrant marketplace for multichannel video programming distributors (including cable companies, digital broadcast satellite, incumbent local exchange carriers, and online video distributors).  Right now consumers are caught in the middle, and are being used as pawns in the negotiations for cable companies’ rights to offer broadcast programming to their customers.  In recent years, these negotiations have consistently resulted in either higher cable rates for consumers or loss of programming.  PK’s reply comments urge the FCC to stop letting consumers get trampled in a system that was intended to benefit the public by preserving “free” over-the-air broadcasting.

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Will Minnesota Senate Kill Duluth’s Chances of Getting Google Gigabit Project?

March 10, 2010 Fiber , Last Mile , Municipal Wi-Fi , Qwest , Regulation

As reported by Christopher Mitchel from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Qwest has scored quite the little victory in its efforts to keep itself (and the good people it serves in Minnesota) from the evil socialist menace known as "local government providing broadband when the incumbent does a lousy job."

Apparently,MN State Senator Bakk and MN State Rep Dill introduced a bill that would have made it easier to for local governments to build municipal networks. Right now, it takes a local referendum vote with 65% to authorize a locality to build a network that offers commercial telephone service (and therefore any "triple play" broadband access service — or so they read it in MN).

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FCC Reform Moves Forward At Thursday’s Meeting

February 9, 2010 FCC , Regulation , Regulatory Reform

Assuming the Federal Government opens for business on Thursday (and I am not taking bets), we can expect to see Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski taking another substantial step to make good on his pledge to reform how the FCC does business. The agenda for the Commission's open meeting for Thursday, February 11 lists three items. Two have to do with changing FCC rules to make the agency more open and more streamlined, the third has to do with reforming the E-Rate Program under which schools get money to subsidize broadband.

We can expect that to the extent the press cover this, the focus will go to the E-Rate story. At least people understand about broadband in schools. But for long term difference that matters, the FCC process stories — while phenomenally boring and unsexy — have much broader impact.

The first item is a general "housekeeping" item.

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