Considering how much time speakers at INTX’s opening session spent on Donald Trump, it was perhaps appropriate that NCTA pres/CEO Michael Powell gave a somewhat politically incorrect assessment of the FCC. “What has been so distressing is that much of this regulatory ordinance has been launched without provocation,” said Powell. “We increasingly are saddled with heavy rules without any compelling evidence of harm to consumers or competitors.” The litany of FCC actions—from the net neutrality order now under court challenge to recent set-top and privacy proposals—prompted Powell to decry a “relentless regulatory assault” that threatens to disadvantage cable vs competitors. However, Powell said, “if we are bold and nimble enough, we will not only survive, we will thrive.” That idea was on full display as Comcast chmn/CEO Brian Roberts gave attendees a preview of how its X1 platform will supercharge the Olympics this summer. “I’m optimistic, but change is upon us, and we can’t sit still,” he said, noting that HTML5 and other tech is fast decoupling the set-top from the TV experience. “This is the worst time to start regulating,” he said, echoing Powell. “It’s an exciting space, and there’s certainly not a lack of change happening, so why you would want to regulate befuddles me.” After the session, Roberts told reporters that cable copes with the FCC “issue by issue,” but “we feel competitive pressure every minute” that can seem lost on the FCC. “Do we need more regulation in this competitive, super technologically changing world that we’re living in?,” he asked. “Probably we disagree on that.” When one reporter asked Roberts if net neutrality is “no big deal,” Roberts quickly responded that “no, it’s not no big deal” and raised the specter of uncertainty around the net neutrality case hurting cable’s ability to invest in new tech because “uncertainty doesn’t equal investment.” He also addressed rising sports costs, arguing that while regional sports nets will continue to be a “solid” business, “there’s a lot of rethinking going on, and with that [set-top] data you can really tell how passionate each market is.” He noted that regional sports nets are still priced on a “one size fits all” model. “All of those questions are on the table,” he said. “I’m not sure there’s an easy answer.” That also goes for Virtual Reality, which could start to tax broadband networks as it rolls out and gains popularity. “I kind of hope so, because anything that requires more bandwidth gives us a reason to keep innovating and taking a leadership [role],” said Roberts. “Running out of ideas would be a bad thing, and I’ll put my bet down that that’s not going to happen.” As Roberts told the general opening session audience earlier that morning, “The world changes all the time… We’ve got to have the best product.”

The Daily


Ninth Circuit Lets CA Net Neutrality Law Stand

California’s net neutrality laws have leapt over another hurdle. The 9th Circuit reaffirmed a district court’s decision to deny an ask for a preliminary injunction from NCTA , ACA Connects , CTIA and

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