Tales of the Sausage Factory: When Good FCC Proceedings Go Bad

I’m getting rather worried as I gear up for two major FCC proceedings that are supposed to be good proceedings for unlicensed spectrum access. Et Docket No. 04-151 proposes opening the 3650–3700 MHz band to unlicensed spectrum (proposed rules in pdf here). The other, ET Docket No. 04-186 proposes opening the broadcast bands to unlicensed spectrum access (proposed rules in pdf here). What could be wrong? See below. I sure hope someone other than me shows up to comment . . .

Continue reading

Tales of the Sausage Factory: Congress Giveth, Congress Taketh Away

Good news: The House Commerce Committee had a hearing on the Digital Media Consumers’ Rights Act, which would undo the more obnoxious provisions of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.

Bad news: The House Judiciary Committee (which handles intellectual property issues) approved the Fraudulent Online Identity Sanctions Act, a bill to criminalize the use of false information in WHOIS registrations. This wouldn’t be so bad if you weren’t required to divulge a boatload of personal information under the “thick” WHOIS requirements in order to register a domain name. Folks who hate getting beaten up by their governments over free speech issues or just hate the way spammers use the WHOIS database often try to defnd themselves by submitting false information.

More on the merits of the bills below. But also of relevance (and what makes the Sausage Factory so much fun) is to note the difference a change in committee makes.

Continue reading

Tales of the Sausage Factory: Victory is SWEET!

I will have a lot more to say on this later, but the Third Circuit Court of Appeals has issued its decision on the FCC’s media ownership deregulation that took place last summer.

The result is a near total victory for MAP and the other public interest clients and the American people. The FCC’s June 2, 2003, deregulatory Order is reversed as not supported by logical reasoning based on the record. The court reverses and remands to the FCC, keeping the old rules in effect until the FCC resolves this mess. The court rejects the FCC’s position that the provision of the 1996 Act that requires the FCC to conduct a review of its ownership rules is “deregulatory” or that it prohibits the FCC from making ownership regulations more stringent. Instead, the FCC is supposed to review its ownership rules and decide whether the public interest requires the FCC to keep the rule, relax the rule, eliminate the rule, or make the rule even more stringent.

More information at our website.

YEEEEEEHAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!

Tales of the Sausage Factory: Clear Channel Settlement Signals Indecency Running Out Of Steam

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?

Continue reading

Tales of the Sausage Factory: Goodies for the Broadcasters, Zip for the Public

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.

Continue reading

New Unlicensed Wireless Blog

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.

Unlicensed Spectrum in TV

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?

Continue reading

Draft Progressive Principles for Spectrum Management

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.

Continue reading