House Commerce chmn John Dingell (R-MI) wants the FCC to explain its rationale for granting set-top box waivers to some video providers and not others at Tues’ oversight hearing. "Why does the Commission believe that its regulations should trump the policy established by Congress by statute in Section 629?" Dingell wrote to the commissioners in a letter obtained by Cfax. Section 629 of the Communications Act allows the FCC when necessary to grant a waiver to assist in the development of new or improved service. In some cases, the FCC Media Bureau said that although a provider didn’t meet the requirements of 629, it could receive a waiver under FCC rules. Unless video providers received waivers, they had to stop deploying set-top boxes containing integrated security on Jul 1 and deploy more expensive CableCARD-equipped boxes. Dingell also wants to know why some waivers were put out for public comment and others weren’t, and whether the FCC has been responding to waiver requests within 90 days per Section 629 (the Media Bureau has said it’s not working under Sect 629 and thus not subject to the timeframe). Dingell also wants to question the 5 commissioners on the upcoming 700Mhz auction and open-access spectrum license requirements. This is the 2nd FCC oversight hearing since Dingell took the chairmanship earlier this year. He and House Telecom chmn Ed Markey (D-MA) have pledged to bring all 5 commissioners in on a regular basis to "keep the Commission on track." — According to Dingell’s letter, FCC chmn Kevin Martin will be at Tues’ hearing despite recent eye surgery that left him unable to read for more than a few minutes at a time for the past few weeks. "I appreciate that he will have some difficulty in preparing for this hearing," the congressman wrote. — Meanwhile, video providers are still trying to get relief from the integration ban. WECHO Video of Little Rock, AK, is reminding the Commission of the time-sensitive nature of its request, noting that the City of Crosslake, MN, was granted a similar deferral of the ban only 5 days after it submitted its info.

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Nearly 33.8 million people tuned in to watch the inauguration of Joe Biden on Jan 20, according to Nielsen ’s

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