Inside the Beltway: FCC NPRM, Possible Sandy Hearing on DC Radar

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Congress may be out for Thanksgiving break, but there are still a few things happening in DC that cable should keep an eye on before carving the turkey. Pricing Data: The FCC Media Bureau has received a request from a Stanford academic on cable TV price survey data. Stanford’s Ali Yurukoglu is studying the effect of vertical integration of cable and satellite networks with content, with a focus on RSNs. He wants data from ’98-’12, including monthly charges for various tiers and the number of channels available on them. The FCC has received a number of requests for confidential treatment of the pricing survey data that are pending. Accordingly, operators who participated can respond to the Freedom of Information Act request within 10 days and raise objections (they must justify them). Sandy Hearing? Leading House Commerce Dems have called for a hearing on the reliability of communications services following Hurricane Sandy. Given AT&T and Verizon‘s plans to phase out support for traditional copper-line networks, they are especially concerned by accounts suggesting "those with corded telephones running on copper-line networks were able to communicate while those relying on wireless services or fiber-optic cables were not." The lawmakers, which include Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA), noted that there was disruption to wireless, television, telephone and Internet. "We cannot predict the time or location of the next disaster, but we know that these disasters are happening with increased frequency as carbon emissions build in the atmosphere. We should do everything we can to prepare for future catastrophes," the Dems said in a letter Mon. Video Descriptions: The FCC launched an NPRM that proposes to make televised emergency info more accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired by requiring the use of a secondary audio stream to provide emergency info aurally that is conveyed visually. The NPRM asks about the benefits of providing accessible emergency information on a secondary audio stream and the incremental costs of providing a secondary audio stream for this purpose. The FCC wants to know if there are any MVPDs or broadcasters who don’t currently provide secondary audio, and if so, should the new rules apply any differently to them. Comments are due 20 days after the NPRM is published in the federal registry. Internet Regulation: Rep Darrell Issa (R-CA) is working on a bill that would create a 2-year moratorium on any new laws, rules or regulations governing the Internet, with the exemption of national security. The proposal would require federal agencies like the FCC, DHS, Commerce and DOJ to provide studies regarding the effectiveness of Internet rules and regulations within their jurisdiction, according to a draft that CableFAX obtained. LightSquared: Yup. It’s still around. The FCC wants comments by Dec 17 on LightSquared’s latest plan to launch its 4G wholesale, terrestrial network. It will relinquish its rights to deploy terrestrial downlink operations at 1545-1555 MHz and permanently relocate those terrestrial operations instead to 1670-1680 MHz. LightSquared states that doing so will provide GPS receivers with an additional 10 MHz guardband from terrestrial services and will allow LightSquared to deploy its broadband network. GPS interference is what put the brakes on the original project. Media Ownership: It continues to loom… Free Press on Mon slammed the FCC, which is reportedly looking to lift the cross media ownership ban soon. The FCC is also reportedly attempting to avoid holding a vote on the matter at an open FCC meeting, the public interest group said, saying the potential new rules are similar to those proposed by then-FCC chmn Kevin Martin in ’07. "It’s baffling that the FCC is even considering rushing to vote on this warmed-over proposal. The 3rd Circuit made it crystal clear that the agency must study the impact of any rule changes on broadcasting opportunities for women and people of color. The FCC hasn’t done anything like this," C raig Aaron, Free Press pres/CEO, said in a statement. The FCC couldn’t be reached immediately for comment.

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