Posts Tagged ‘FCC’

Corruption At The FCC? TV Execs Donate To Dem Lawmaker, Get Million-Dollar Rule Exception

A single television station has been granted a significant exception to the Federal Communications Commission’s upcoming broadcast spectrum overhaul — a station whose operators made joint campaign contributions to a key lawmaker with oversight authority over the FCC.

House Energy & Commerce Committee Ranking Democrat Henry Waxman — who oversees the FCC — received more than $12,000 in campaign contributions from three television executives in danger of losing broadcast rights after their company missed a crucial agency deadline. The company was subsequently granted the sole exception to the FCC’s rule.

“The timing of the campaign donations is very suspicious,” a source at the FCC familiar with the spectrum deliberations told The Daily Caller. “It appears that you can buy special favors from the FCC worth millions of dollars by giving money to Democrats. Would the result have been the same if the company’s executives were Republican donors? I doubt it.”

In May the FCC finalized plans to hold a spectrum incentive auction, the goal of which is to free up and transition broadcast television ultra-high frequency spectrum space over to the growing mobile broadband services market.

Starting sometime in mid-2015, TV broadcasters will have the opportunity to sell spectrum back to the commission, which will then re-sell it to wireless carriers. Broadcasters choosing not to sell will be repacked (or moved to different spectrum) in order to stay in business.

The central question facing broadcasters is who will be eligible for auction participation, and who will be eligible for repacking in the event they fail to sell their spectrum.

That decision will be left up to the commission based on three FCC broadcast power and classification distinctions — “Class A” and “Full-Power Stations,” which will be eligible for auction participation or repacking, and “Low-Power Stations,” which will be ineligible for auction participation.

Full-Power Stations cover large broadcast ranges and must meet certain public interest requirements. Low-Power Stations cover smaller, more-localized areas and are exempt from those requirements. Class A Stations are former Low-Power Stations that received full-power status by filing an application with the commission, and meeting the public interest protocols.

Class A and Full-Power Stations will either receive millions of dollars by selling their spectrum to the FCC or stay in the television business via new, repacked spectrum, whereas Low-Power Stations are not guaranteed spectrum after the auction — meaning if there’s no room left, they’ll be forced off the air.

That makes the distinction between Class A and Low-Power Stations worth, literally, millions of dollars more for the former.

The commission released its adopted incentive auction rules in June, which established a simple rule: All Low-Power Stations that failed to file applications to become Class A Stations by February 22, 2012 (the date the law authorizing the incentive auction was enacted) would be ineligible to participate in the auction, or be protected through repacking.

All except one – a local station based in Los Angeles, which received a special exception to the rule.

Read more:

DeMint vows to reverse FCC's 'Internet takeover'

Sen. Jim DeMint, R-SC, says Federal Communications Commission should be renamed the “Fabricating a Crisis Commission,” following a vote by the panel’s three Democrats to approve proposed rules that amount to a hostile takeover of the Internet by a government agency acting illegally.

The proposal – misleadingly described by proponents as an attempt to insure “net neutrality” by guaranteeing equal access to the Internet – was introduced a year ago by Julius Genachowski, President Obama’s appointee as FCC chairman.

A federal court has ruled that the commission has no authority to regulate the Internet, and a bipartisan group of senators and representives warned Genechowski not to attempt to impose a regulatory regime on the Internet earlier this year.

The move’s legality was even questioned by FCC Commissioner Michael Copp, one of the Democrats who voted today with Genachowski, saying he considered voting against the proposal because it lacks a sufficiently defensible legal basis to survive a court challenge promised by major Internet Service Providers like Verizon, Microsoft, and AT & T.

But legal challenges by industry are likely to be much less of a problem for the Genachowski-led takeover than efforts in Congress to stop the FCC in its tracks.

That’s clearly what DeMint has in mind, as he said in his statement released today following the FCC action:

“The Obama Administration has ignored evidence that this federal takeover will hang a millstone of regulatory and legal uncertainty around the neck of a vibrant sector of our economy.

“Proceeding on its own liberal whims rather than facts, this FCC has chosen to grant itself broad authority to limit how businesses can bring the internet to consumers in faster and more innovative ways.

“Americans loudly demanded a more limited federal government this November, but the Obama Administration has dedicated itself to expanding centralized government planning. Today, unelected bureaucrats rammed through an internet takeover, even after Congress and courts warned them not to.

“To keep the internet economy thriving, this decision must be reversed. Regulatory reform will be a top priority for Republicans in the next Congress, and I intend to prevent the FCC or any government agency from unilaterally burdening our recovering economy with baseless regulation.

“In order to provide the stability businesses need to grow, I will work with my fellow senators to see passage of my FCC Act, which would ensure that the FCC can only use its rulemaking powers where there is clear evidence of a harmful market failure, as well as the REINS Act, which would add the accountability of a Congressional vote before any government agency’s proposed major regulations may be finalized.”

If the FCC plan somehow manages to survive, it will almost certainly do for First Amendment liberties and the Internet what it did for them in regulating broadcast television and radio. Former CBS News president Fred Friendly’s landmark book, “The Good Guys, the Bad Guys and the First Amendment,” describes in great detail how the Kennedy and Johnson administrations used the FCC to silence conservative critics.

Read more at the Washington Examiner:

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (OUR HERO)Files Internet Freedom Act

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) is keeping the promise she made last month. Today, she filed a bill to strike down the Federal Communications Commission’s recent move to enact net neutrality regulations. The Internet Freedom Act states Internet regulation is the sole prerogative of Congress, and is supported by more than 60 House members, including the majority of Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

“I agree that the Internet faces a number of challenges,” Rep. Blackburn said in a statement. “Only Congress can address those challenges without compounding them. Until we do, the FCC and other federal bureaucracies should keep their hands off the ‘net.”

Action on the bill is expected soon, Blackburn’s spokesman said — but the act is only an intermediate step in the longer process of repealing the actual regulations

Big Government Strikes Back and Must Be Stopped

The 111th Congress, the most unpopular Congress in the recorded history of the United States, ended last week with a flurry of legislative activity that set a record for a lame duck Congress. Some in the media are eager to make the case that last week’s events portend a new era of bipartisan accomplishment, led by the White House that will extend into the 112th Congress. They are half right.
Last week’s events in Washington were a preview of lawmaking in 2011, but Congress was not where the real action was. While the media was distracted by the last breaths of a defeated leftist majority in Congress, it was the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that gave true picture of how the Obama Administration will advance their agenda in 2011.

First on Tuesday, the HHS unveiled new price controls for the health insurance industry. Using new powers granted by Obamacare, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that starting next year, health insurance companies must receive permission from the Obama Administration before they can raise rates by more than 10 percent. The experts at HHS believe these price controls will help decrease rising health care costs. They are wrong. Price controls attack the symptoms of runaway costs, not the cause. As any Econ 101 student can tell you, they will cause only shortages, not better health care. This is only one of thousands of new powers Obamacare granted the HHS. Left unchecked, there are many new health care regulations to come.

Later on Tuesday, the FCC released its “net neutrality” rules, which will allow the federal government to begin regulating the Internet. This despite opposition from Congress and a contrary federal court ruling. Dissenting FCC commissioner Robert McDowell described the unprecedented power grab last week: “Nothing is broken that needs fixing, however. The Internet has been open and freedom-enhancing since it was spun off from a government research project in the early 1990s. Its nature as a diffuse and dynamic global network of networks defies top-down authority. Ample laws to protect consumers already exist.” And just how competent are the Internet’s new rulers? Just before the FCC decision, visitors to the commission’s Web site couldn’t even access the 1,900 pages of documents pertaining to the net neutrality ruling. The very commission seeking to regulate the Internet saw its Web site go down due to “scheduled maintenance.”

Then on Thursday the EPA announced that it will begin regulating power plants and oil refineries in an attempt to stop global warming. The new regulations will seek to cut greenhouse gas emissions by making it more expensive to turn fossil fuels into energy. But the Obama Administration did not stop there. Later in the day, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that the Bureau of Land Management was issuing new rules that would make it harder to develop natural resources on government-owned land. Both of these measures will not only drive up the cost of electricity but will also make us more dependent on foreign sources of energy.

The ability of the Obama Administration to step up their leftist agenda even after it was thoroughly “shellacked” at the polls is not an accident. It is the purposeful design of the Progressive movement, which has been working to undermine the Founders’ vision of our republic for over a century now.

Thomas G. West, contributor to The Progressive Revolution in Politics and Political Science, explains:
The Founders thought that laws should be made by a body of elected officials with roots in local communities. They should not be “experts,” but they should have “most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue, the common good of the society” (Madison). The wisdom in question was the kind on display in The Federalist, which relentlessly dissected the political errors of the previous decade in terms accessible to any person of intelligence and common sense.
The Progressives did not intend to abolish democracy, to be sure. They wanted the people’s will to be more efficiently translated into government policy. But what democracy meant for the Progressives is that the people would take power out of the hands of locally elected officials and political parties and place it instead into the hands of the central government, which would in turn establish administrative agencies run by neutral experts, scientifically trained, to translate the people’s inchoate will into concrete policies.
This will be the fight of 2011: the unelected central planning “experts” of the Obama Administration versus the newly elected House of Representatives and state and local governments. The people are not powerless. Congress still has the power of the purse and can withhold funding for implementing Obamacare or writing global warming regulations.

There is also the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to review and overrule regulations issued by government agencies. State and local governments can also thwart the federal administrative state by asserting their rights whenever possible.

We can return power from Washington back to the people. Saying good-bye to the 111th Congress is a great first step.

Time to Shut Down the FCC

By Andy Kessler

It’s time to close the Federal Communications Commission. This week, FCC Chairman Ju­lius Genachowski gave a speech outlining his push for net neu­trality, the absurd notion that the Internet should be “open and free” when in fact it’s quite expensive to build. Net neutrality will straitjacket the U.S. economy’s single most im­portant driver of productivity and transformation.

More transistors exist today than ever, and there is plenty of capacity inside fiber­optic cables and out in the air. What’s missing is competition for consumers.

Besides the obvious question of whether the FCC even has the au­thority to regulate the Web—in April, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said it doesn’t—the agency has a long history of re­straining trade. Founded in 1934 partly to regulate radio spectrum (which in reality hasn’t ever been scarce), the FCC delayed FM radio by favoring AM and television in spec­trum allocation, mandated a TV net­work oligopoly by restricting station ownership, and kept long-distance rates too high for decades by forcing operators to subsidize local tele­phone costs. Now, because of bad bandwidth policy, it limits what smart phones can really do.

Mr. Genachowski claims his Inter­net regulation efforts are based on “shared appreciation for the Inter­net’s wondrous contributions to our economy and our way of life.” His rules of the road state that consum­ers and innovators have a right to: know basic information about broad­band service; send and receive lawful Internet traffic; visit the sites they want and say what they want online using the devices of their choice; and a level playing field.

“No central authority, public or private, should have the power to pick which ideas or companies win or lose,” Mr. Genachowski says, “that’s the role of the market and the marketplace of ideas.”

It all sounds great. But incredibly, nowhere does he mention competi­tion, a necessary condition of a mar­ketplace. By discouraging competi­tion in local access and refusing to change arcane licensing rules, this regime would freeze in place Google, Comcast, Verizon Wireless and ESPN just as the next wave of services will emerge to delight us.

This week a dispute over fees erupted between Comcast, which has 17 million broadband customers, and fiber communications company Level 3, which recently signed a deal to handle the transmission of Netflix streaming movies. Comcast is de­manding that Level 3 pay additional fees for Comcast’s added band requirement of all those movies—it’s estimated that Netflix streaming represents 20% of peak Internet traf­fic—or else, my guess, it will charge customers more.

Level 3 is crying foul. And the FCC is investigating, especially in light of Com­cast’s pending merger with NBC Universal and its un­stated goal of protecting its existing video delivery busi­ness to cable boxes.

What will come next is obvious: Netflix customers will complain about choppy video, and Comcast will point fingers at Level 3. Then the FCC will inevitably update its rules so that mov­ies should stream without chop between, say, 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. Another set of rules will no doubt limit what content Netflix or other new entrants can even deliver.

Rules beget more rules until tech­nology changes to make the whole mess obsolete. For the record, it was Skype, not the FCC, that brought down AT&T’s consumer international rates.

Yes, the world inside of Internet data centers is complex, but what’s clear is that there is almost no cable competition. Real network neutrality would come from customers drop­ping a fee-hiking Comcast and taking their business to another provider who can stream high-definition mov­ies, TV shows and the next wave of video games. Right now, consumers are stuck with no real options be­cause cable companies continue to bully municipalities to be the sole operator.

Ask anyone in the technology world about scarcity and you’ll hear a lecture about how there is no such thing. More transistors exist today than yesterday. There is plenty of bandwidth, both inside of fiber optic cables and out in the air, and more everyday as faster chips can handle higher and higher speeds. And there-is no scarcity of pixels, storage, serv­ers or even energy to run data cen­ters (which sit next to waterfalls for cheap electricity). Scarcity is a myth perpetrated by those that want the protection racket of regulation.

During the last two decades, the FCC has manufactured the idea that the electromagnetic spectrum used by wireless devices is scarce. Spectrum auctions became another way to restrain trade. Deep pocket operators, like AT&T and Verizon Wireless, over­bid for spectrum and then pass along high costs to the consumer in the form of $40 monthly fees and cryptic calling plans. It’s a longer conversation, but with the right network architecture, smart devices can be pro­grammed to share huge swaths of spectrum without interfering with other users. If we do it with Wi-Fi for data, we can certainly do it for phone calls.

In place of the FCC, all we need is a policy framework that states that consumers and innovators have a right to one thing: real choice. Ev­eryone should have the right to choose among many networks for communications services, and no state or municipality may restrict competition.

That’s it. Everything else—faster networks, innovative services, a la carte programming, and yes, even pri­vacy—follows from this one rule. Pay a new provider $5 extra a month and no one tracks what websites you visit!

The FCC can apply more Band-Aids to its broken scarcity-based reg­ulatory model. Or we can close the agency and let consumers allocate capital efficiently.

Mr. Kessler, a former hedge-fund manager, is the author of “Eat Peo­ple—And Other Unapologetic Rules for Gam&Changing Entrepreneurs,” forthcoming from Portfolio.

FCC Has ZERO Authority Over The Internet But Wants It !!!


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