The FCC and Clear Channel reached a settlement on all pending indecency proceedings involving Clear Channel. You can read a copy of the Consent Decree and the statements of the various Commissioners here. As usual, I’m more interested in what it means. To me, this says “the Bush Administration wants indecency to go away as an issue.” Surprised?
Only in Washington would the Clear Channels of the world, those great champions of efficiencies and deregulation, declare that their monopoly on local content must be protected with regulation. And only in Washington would the deregulatory anti-big-government Republicans lap it up with a spoon. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has petitioned the FCC and Congress to prohibit the new satellite radio competitors from providing local content (mostly traffic and weather). Of course, this is moving at hyperspeed, while the effort to impose real public interest obligations on the broadcasters moves at one quarter impulse. Still, I can’t help stirring the pot at the FCC and seeing what bubbles up.
Those interested in the unlicensed revolution should tune into a new blog wireless unleashed. The four contributors: Kevin Werebach, Andrew Odlyzko, David Isenberg, and Clay Shirky are among the most articulate and visionary writers about spectrum issues today. The blog covers a wide range of issues from the technical to the legal to the philosophical. I’ve put it on my morning favorites list, and I hope you do too.
The FCC has released its eagerly anticipated (or dreaded) Notice of Proposed Rule Making which would authorize the use of unlicensed spectrum access in the television bands. (Word, PDF, and Text). This is one of the real important proceedings before the FCC on unlicensed. You can be sure that major companies on both the pro-unlicensed and the anti-unlicensed side will file? But will you? Are you content to let Microsoft or Intel cut a deal with Viacom, News Corp and the rest of the media conglomerates for you? Or would you rather participate yourself and help define your own rights?
I was recently asked by another organization to take a stab at my vision of progressive principles of spectrum management. My goal is to provide a set of guiding principles that go beyond mere economic efficiency or even freedom to innovate. While I feel these are important elements of any policy, the overarching goal of spectrum management should be, in the words of the Communications Act, “to make available to all the people of the United States, without discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin or sex” the benefits of our communications system.
These are my own thoughts, and I am very curious to receive wider feedback from the Community at large. Please also keep in mind that these are a draft and represent my own best efforts and opinions. They do not represent any official position of any organization, and are certainly not the position of Media Access Project.
As reported in the Washington Post and elsewhere, group owner Sinclair Broadcasting will not air the Nightline episode in which Ted Koppel will read the names of all American troops killed in Iraq. Whether one agrees with Sinclair’s decision or not, it highlights how concentration in the hands of a single owner can shape news nationally. The controversy has an added level of interest since Sinclair has agressively pursued centralcasting news, which further re-enforces the ability of a politically motivated group owners to govern the national debate.
I wish *I* could change the criminal law of the United States to make it a crime to compete with me, and jack up the punishment to huge fines and more jail time than any Enron exec will ever serve. I wish *I* could persuade a regulatory agency and Congress to make everyone else in the universe personally responsible for watching all my stuff. Oh,and then I’d make everyone give me the keys to their house so I could look inside whenever I want.
Sadly for me, *I* am not the RIAA. The introduction of HR4077, a bill which makes the FBI the RIAA’s personal police force for monitoring peer-to-peer networks and says all sorts of nasty things about peer-to-peer generally, and the FCC’s,Notice of Inquiry on whether it should mandate content controls on digital radio certainly give credence to the accusations that big money owns Washington lock, stock ‘n barrel. Interested in helping my ongoing experiment to prove if democracy still works and reminding your Senator and Representative that they really work for you? Read below . . .
Comcast has withdrawn its offer for Disney. Much as I’d like to claim this as a kill for the public interest community as some of my colleagues have, I think that was only part of the calculus. But don’t worry all you big media fans, because with Adelphia on the chopping block and MGM being courted, we can count on the media feeding frenzy to continue.
Fans of municipal community networks were dealt a blow by a Supreme Court decision last month in Nixon v. Missouri Municipal League. The Supreme Court found that Congress needed to be more explicit in preempting the states when it said “the states shall not prevent any entity from offering telecom services” as part of the 1996 Telecom Act. Odd as it may seem to speakers of the English language, I think the Supremes may have got this one right.