In what’s becoming standard operating procedure, an FCC meeting originally slated to start at 9:30am Wed still hadn’t gotten underway at 6pm. An item setting up rules for the auction of 700Mhz spectrum, which houses analog TV, was thought to be causing the delay. Another item on Wed’s agenda of interest to the cable industry: a rulemaking on requiring cable operators to carry must-carry broadcasters’ digital and analog signals after the Feb ’09 DTV transition if their systems were not all-digital. It’s an item that House Commerce chmn John Dingell (D-MI) promised to watch closely. "Not only do we have to see to it that the rulemaking is conducted in a fair fashion in connection to these matters, but, very frankly, we have to see to it that the results of any governmental action is first of all something which solves the problems, which enables you to function properly and compete fairly in areas where you have concerns and business interests," he told some 300 cable execs attending NCTA‘s "Key Contact Conference" Wed morning. Dingell said he understood how the industry might feel picked on by the FCC—a refrain repeated by many lately. While he said he couldn’t say whether industries were targeted, he noted that when the FCC is less than open and transparent, it can result in "less than perfect regulation." Dingell pledged continued oversight of the Commission, adding that his "ability to bring matters to the attention of FCC is probably a little better than yours." Dingell also expressed concern over the US’s fall to 15th place in a global ranking of broadband penetration and called for legislation for a national broadband policy. He raised concerns that cable modem service and other services have been classified as "information services," noting the FCC still hasn’t determined what consumer protections apply to those services. As for that 700Mhz auction item, which the FCC still hadn’t been resolved by our presstime, Dingell would prefer fairly small sales of spectrum "so we don’t wind up with a few great big folks having it all." — There was also buzz late in the day that the FCC’s TV violence report would hit sometime Wed night.

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