BloostonLaw Telecom Update
Published by the Law Offices of Blooston, Mordkofsky, Dickens, Duffy & Prendergast, LLP
[Portions reproduced here with the firm's permission.]
| Vol. 14, No. 30 || July 27, 2011 |
AT&T Customers Seek
Arbitration To Block
Eleven AT&T customers are filing arbitration requests to block AT&T’s proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile, according to various press sources, including Cnet and PCmag. The first “arbitration demand” filing occurred last week. It argued that the proposed merger would violate the Clayton Antitrust Act by harming competition in the wireless market. More specifically, the filing asserts that the merger will result in higher prices and diminished service, according to Cnet. It reported that the customer is asking that the merger be blocked, or that certain requirements be imposed, including the divestiture of some AT&T spectrum, and that AT&T cease its practice of entering into exclusive contracts with handset manufacturers.
As Cnet noted, AT&T’s customer contracts prohibit customers from suing the company either individually or as part of class action. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld this practice earlier this year in AT&T v. Vincent Concepion. Thus, customers must use the arbitration process, but they must file their claims individually rather than as a “class.” The Court said that “class arbitration” is too costly, time-consuming, and defeats the “informal” purpose of arbitration. Each arbitration request will be assigned to a separate judge, and each case will be decided independently
AT&T responded in a statement that the claims “are completely without merit." It said that “an arbitrator has no authority to block the merger or affect the merger process in any way. Our arbitration provision allows customers to resolve their individual disputes with AT&T in a prompt and consumer-friendly manner."
BloostonLaw contacts: Hal Mordkofsky, Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and John Prendergast.
NOTICE TO CLIENTS: The BloostonLaw Telecom Update newsletter will be on vacation during the month of August. We will resume publication on September 7. Meanwhile, we will keep clients apprised of significant developments via memos and special supplements.
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
- Draft House GOP spectrum bill sparks controversy. — But it is only one of several measures addressing public safety spectrum
- Hackers target both large and small firms.
- FCC releases order on FY 2011 regulatory fees.
- Substantial service deadline for state-licensed 700 MHz
Draft House GOP Spectrum Bill Sparks Controversy
But It Is Only One of Several Measures
Addressing Public Safety Spectrum
The House GOP Discussion Draft of the Spectrum Innovation Act of 2011 , which would authorize the FCC to conduct incentive auctions for broadcast TV spectrum, has drawn fire from a number of people in the telecommunications sector (BloostonLaw Telecom Update, July 20). The GOP draft differs from the draft Public Safety Broadband and Wireless Innovation Act of 2011, recently released by Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), and S. 28, a bill with the same title, introduced last January by Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) that was supplemented by S. 911, the Strengthening Public-safety and Enhancing Communications Through Reform, Utilization, and Modernization Act or the SPECTRUM Act, which expresses the sense of Congress that bipartisan public safety legislation should be enacted. S. 911 was introduced by Chairman Rockefeller and Ranking Member Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) last May.
The GOP version has some controversial provisions, including the following:
- In lieu of reimbursement for relocation costs, a broadcast TV licensee or a multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD) may seek a waiver or modification of its application regarding “any provision of law administered by the [FCC], or any regulation of the Commission promulgated under any such provision.”
- The Commission may only exercise its authority to allocate a portion of the spectrum for unlicensed use if (1) the Commission conducts a system of competitive bidding (a) for the allocation of such portion for unlicensed use, and (b) for a license for the use of such portion; and (2) the bids for unlicensed use, in the aggregate, exceed the highest bid for such license.
- In assigning licenses or allocating spectrum for unlicensed use through competitive bidding, the Commission may not impose any condition on the licenses that (1) limits the ability of a licensee to manage the use of its network, including management of the use of applications, services, or devices on its network, or to prioritize the traffic on its network as it chooses; or (2) requires a licensee to sell access to its network on a wholesale basis. The FCC also may not (A) limit participation on the basis of the total amount of spectrum licenses held by a person seeking such participation; or (B) impose any other condition on eligibility for participation that is not related to the qualifications of an applicant.
- The Commission would be directed to assign to each State (without an auction) a license for the exclusive use within such State of the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum between the frequencies from 763 megahertz to 768 megahertz and from 793 megahertz to 798 megahertz for public safety (the already allocated Public Safety broadband block). The public safety community has been seeking a reallocation of the D Block because of their belief that the existing 10 MHz public safety broadband block does not provide adequate capacity.
The Waxman-Eshoo Discussion Draft does not include the above provisions. Among other things, the Waxman-Eschoo proposal would give the FCC incentive auction authority, allocate the 700 MHz D-Block to public safety, require federal agencies to conduct a comprehensive spectrum inventory, and create a federal spectrum strategic plan.
In many respects, this draft is similar to S.
911, the Rockefeller bill, which includes the following:
- Allocating 10 megahertz of spectrum, known as the “D-block,” to public safety;
- Directing the FCC to establish standards that allow public safety officials, when not using the network, to lease capacity on a secondary but preemptible basis to non-public safety entities;
- Providing the FCC with voluntary incentive auction revenue sharing authority. This allows existing spectrum licensees to voluntarily relinquish their airwaves in exchange for a portion of the proceeds of the commercial auction of their spectrum.
- Directing surplus revenue from spectrum auctions, estimated to be more than $10 billion, to the U.S. Treasury for deficit reduction.
The Rockefeller proposal was approved by the Senate Commerce Committee in mid-June (BloostonLaw Telecom Update, June 15).
Chairman Rockefeller has made ensuring the necessary public safety communications resources for the nation’s first responders one of his top legislative priorities (BloostonLaw Telecom Update, January 26). To that end, he has secured the support of Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) for his initiative. Rep. King had introduced his own HR 607, the Broadband for First Responders Act, last February.
In the House, Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) recently introduced HR 2482, titled the Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act, which differs from S. 911 and both House Discussion Drafts in that it would establish a single public safety wireless network license in the D-Block, with an initial term of 10 years, and a Public Safety Broadband Corporation to oversee the license.
Other related bills include:
- HR 911 , the Spectrum Innovation and Auction Act , introduced March 3, by Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.). This bill would require the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the FCC to conduct an inventory of broadband spectrum, and to conduct voluntary incentive auctions and share the proceeds with licensees who relinquished their spectrum.
- HR 1622 , the Spectrum Innovation Act, introduced April 15 by Rep. Robert E. Latta (R-Ohio), which also would provide for voluntary incentive auction revenue sharing.
- S. 415 , the Spectrum Optimization Act, introduced Feb. 17 by Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.), which also would provide for voluntary incentive auction revenue sharing.
- S. 455 , the Reforming Airwaves by Developing Incentives and Opportunistic Sharing (RADIOS) Act, introduced by Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and John Kerry (D-Mass.), which would provide for a spectrum inventory, measurement studies, relocation cost-benefit analyses, as well as voluntary incentive auction revenue sharing.
Clearly, the House and the Senate have a lot of work to do to resolve the differences in the various proposals and come up with a comprehensive bill that can pass in both chambers. It is not clear, however, if they will be able to achieve this by September 11—the 10 th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks—the target date Chairman Rockefeller has set for passage of such a bill.
BloostonLaw contacts: Hal Mordkofsky, John Prendergast, Richard Rubino, and Cary Mitchell.
Hackers Target Both Large And Small Businesses
News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World scandal in the United Kingdom has brought computer “hacking” to the world stage, and it comes on the heels of the recent controversy over WikiLeaks’ online “publication” of U.S. government documents. Hacking has become a widespread problem for both large and small companies. Last week, we reported that a New Mexico man, Lance Moore, was charged with stealing AT&T’s documents regarding the company’s 4G and Long Term Evolution (LTE) network plans and posting them on the Internet (BloostonLaw Telecom Update, July 20).
In this regard, on the same day that accused hacker Lance Moore was arrested, the FBI conducted more than a dozen raids and made more than a dozen arrests across the United States in connection with the “Anonymous” computer hacking investigation, according to CBS News. It reported that FBI agents conducted raids at four New York residences as well as locations in California, New Jersey, and Florida in connection with the investigation. Agents reportedly seized computers and computer accessories under search warrants at four homes of suspected hackers in Baldwin and Merrick both on Long Island, in Brooklyn and the Bronx. CBS said the allegations are that the network of hackers allegedly carried out distributed denial of service attacks on numerous victims including corporations and their websites.
Further, CBS reported that members of the Anonymous hacker group have stated, via Twitter, that they have stolen a gigabyte of information from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The hackers claim that they have a good deal of “restricted material.” The group indicated that this breach was in retaliation for the FBI arrests of some of its members, although it did not explain why it targeted NATO, according to CBS.
Additionally, the New York Times reported that Aaron Swartz, a 24-year-old programmer and online political activist, was recently indicted in Boston on charges that he stole more than 4 million documents from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and JSTOR, an archive of scientific journals and academic papers. According to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, the charges against Swartz could result in up to 35 years in prison and a $1 million fine if he is convicted. The charges filed against Swartz include wire fraud, computer fraud, obtaining information from a protected computer and criminal forfeiture, the Times said.
Swartz, a well-known figure in Internet academic circles, created a site called Infogami that later merged with the social news site Reddit, according to the Times. He is also a founder and director of the nonprofit group Demand Progress, which calls itself a political action group hoping to change public policy that relates to the Internet, the Times said. In 2009, Swartz downloaded 19 million pages of federal court documents from a government database system, acting on the belief that they should be made available for free, the Times said.
Recently, too, Sony, CitiGroup, and Lockheed Martin experienced cyber attacks.
Targeting Small Companies
A caveat for our clients is: “What can happen to AT&T, NATO, MIT, etc., could happen to you.” The Wall Street Journal recently reported that hackers are expanding their sights beyond multinationals to include any business that stores data in electronic form. Small companies, which are making the leap to computerized systems and digital records, have now become hackers' main target, the Journal said.
Last year, cyber thieves planted a software program on the cash registers at two Chicago-area magazine shops that sent customer credit-card numbers to Russia. MasterCard demanded an investigation, at the City Newsstand owner’s expense, and the whole ordeal left him out about $22,000, the Journal said. It noted that with limited budgets and few or no technical experts on staff, small businesses generally have weak security. Cyber criminals have taken notice. In 2010, the U.S. Secret Service and
Verizon Communications Inc.'s forensic analysis unit, which investigates attacks, responded to a combined 761 data breaches, up from 141 in 2009. Of those, 482, or 63%, were at companies with 100 employees or fewer. Visa Inc. estimates about 95% of the credit-card data breaches it discovers are on its smallest business customers, the Journal said.
The Journal noted that it takes time to break into a major company, but hackers have discovered that they can steal data from dozens of small businesses and not get detected. The fact that there are so many types of security threats makes it difficult for small firms to protect themselves, the Journal said. In April, it added, the FBI issued an alert about a style of attack in which hackers steal a business's online banking login details and use them to transfer funds out of the business's account. That's what happened to Lease Duckwall, when someone logged into his company's bank account for Green Ford Sales Inc. in Abilene, Kansas. The hacker added nine new employees to the car dealership's payroll and transferred $63,000 to them, the Journal said.
The costs of a breach can put a small company out of business. In 2006 and 2007, a Bellingham, Wash., restaurant called Burger Me LLC had its computerized cash register hacked, the Journal said. It noted that criminals made untold numbers of fraudulent charges on customer credit cards. As a result, credit card firms shut down the restaurant’s account and put a hold on thousands of dollars in incoming payments. The resulting investigation, combined with the inability to accept credit cards, forced the owner to close the restaurant, the Journal reported.
The upshot is that smaller companies are less likely to grasp the security threat from hackers. The Journal noted that a 2010 survey by the National Retail Federation and First Data Corp. of small- and medium-size retailers in the U.S. found that 64% believed their businesses weren't vulnerable to card data theft and only 49% had assessed their security safeguards.
Federal Government Response
The FCC came up with similar findings last May, when it convened a cybersecurity roundtable of members from the public, private, and non-profit sectors. The Commission came to the following conclusions:
As larger companies do more to secure their technology systems, less-secure small businesses are becoming easier targets for cyber criminals. American small businesses lose billions to cyber attacks annually and 74% of small and medium businesses report being affected by cyber attacks in the past 12 months. The average cost of these attacks for business, per incident, was $188,242.
Small businesses often struggle to protect confidential data, with 42% of small and medium businesses surveyed reporting the loss of confidential or private data in the past 12 months and 40% experiencing direct financial costs as a result.
Small businesses often do not backup their data, with 47% reporting that they do not ever back up their data.
Further, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), a proponent of comprehensive cybersecurity legislation, recently called on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to clarify corporate disclosure requirements for cybersecurity breaches so that the American public can learn more about when hackers make efforts to penetrate companies’ computer systems. Rockefeller, in a letter to SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro , said “Securing cyberspace is one of the most important and urgent challenges of our time. In light of the growing threat…it is essential that corporate leaders know their responsibility for managing and disclosing security risk.” The letter was signed by four other senators: Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn). The letter stated that cyber risk management is a critical corporate responsibility. Federal securities law requires publicly traded companies to disclose “material” risks and events, including cyber risks and network breaches. A review of past disclosures suggests that a significant number of companies are failing to meet these requirements. The SEC has longstanding authority to publish “interpretive guidance” to clarify corporate responsibilities, protect investors, and promote fair and efficient markets.
In this regard, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee last week unanimously approved the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2011 (HR 2096) —legislation aimed to boost cybersecurity education, research and development. Debate by the full House could come after the August recess. HR 2096, sponsored by Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas), would require increased coordination and prioritization of federal cybersecurity R&D activities and the development and advancement of cybersecurity technical standards. The measure also would strengthen cybersecurity education and talent development and industry partnership initiatives. The bill would:
- Give the National Institutes of Standards and Technology the authority to set security standards for federal computer systems and develop cybersecurity standards for agencies to follow.
- Create a task force to coordinate research and development efforts between the federal government, universities and the private sector.
- Establish cybersecurity research and development grant programs. Create scholarship programs at National Science Foundation that can be repaid with federal service.
- Require the president to conduct an assessment of cybersecurity workforce needs across the federal government.
In the meantime, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade , last week approved legislation to protect American consumers from cyber attacks and identity theft. The Secure and Fortify Electronic Data Act (H.R. 2577), or SAFE Data Act, passed the subcommittee by voice vote. The bill now moves to the full Energy and Commerce Committee for consideration. The SAFE Data Act, authored by Subcommittee Chairman Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.), would establish uniform national standards for data security and data breach notification. H.R. 2577 builds on legislation passed by the House last Congress and reflects the changing landscape of data security. The legislation also encompasses many of the lessons learned at recent subcommittee hearings, which examined this year’s massive data breaches at Sony and Epsilon.
In addition to establishing a cybersecurity web site (at www.fcc.gov/cyberforsmallbiz ), the FCC has compiled a list of things small businesses can do to protect themselves against hackers:
1. Train employees in security principles: Establish basic security practices to protect sensitive business information and communicate them to all employees on a regular basis. Establish rules of behavior describing how to handle and protect customer information and other vital data. Clearly detail the penalties for violating business cybersecurity policies.
2. Protect information, computers and networks from viruses, spyware and other malicious code: Install, use and regularly update antivirus and anti-spyware software on every computer used in your business. Such software is readily available online from a variety of vendors. Most software packages now offer subscriptions to "security service" applications, which provide additional layers of protection. Set the antivirus software to automatically check for updates at a scheduled time of low computer usage, such as at night (midnight, for example), and then set the software to do a scan after the software update.
3. Provide firewall security for your Internet connection: A firewall is set of related programs that prevent outsiders from accessing data on a private network. Install and maintain firewalls between your internal network and the Internet. If employees work from home, ensure that their home systems are protected by firewalls. Install firewalls on all computers — including laptops — used in conducting your business.
4. Download and install software updates for your operating systems and applications as they become available: All operating system vendors regularly provide patches and updates to their products to correct security problems and improve functionality. Configure all software to install such updates automatically.
5. Make backup copies of important business data and information: Regularly backup the data on every computer used in your business. Critical data includes word processing documents, electronic spreadsheets, databases, financial files, human resources files and accounts receivable/payable files. Back up data automatically if possible, or at least weekly.
6. Control physical access to your computers and network components: Prevent access or use of business computers by unauthorized individuals. Laptops can be particularly easy targets for theft, so make sure they are stored and locked up when unattended.
7. Secure your Wi-Fi networks: If you have a Wi-Fi network for your workplace make sure it is secure and hidden. To hide your Wi-Fi network, setup your wireless access point or router so it does not broadcast the network name, known as the Service Set Identifier (SSID). In addition, make sure to turn on the encryption so that passwords are required for access. Lastly, it is critical to change the administrative password that was on the device when it was first purchased.
8. Require individual user accounts for each employee: Setup a separate account for each individual and require that strong passwords be used for each account. Administrative privileges should only be given to trusted IT staff and key personnel.
9. Limit employee access to data and information, and limit authority to install software: Do not provide any one employee with access to all data systems. Employees should only be given access to the specific data systems that they need for their jobs, and should not be able to install any software without permission.
10. Regularly change passwords: Passwords that stay the same, will, over time, be shared and become common knowledge to coworkers and can be easily hacked. Passwords should be changed at least every three months.
BloostonLaw contacts: Hal Mordkofsky, Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and John Prendergast.
FCC RELEASES ORDER ON FY 2011 REGULATORY FEES: The FCC has issued a Report and Order, concluding its Assessment and Collection of Regulatory Fees proceeding to collect $335,794,000 in regulatory fees for Fiscal Year (FY) 2011. In its annual regulatory fee assessment, the FCC said it will use the same methodology adopted last year. In calculating the FY 2011 regulatory fees, the FCC adjusted the FY 2011 list of payment units based upon licensee databases, industry and trade group projections, as well as prior year payment information. In some instances, Commission licensee databases are used; in other instances, actual prior year payment records and/or industry and trade association projections are used in determining the payment units. Where appropriate, the FCC said it adjusted and rounded its final estimates to take into consideration events that may impact the number of units for which regulatees submit payment, such as waivers and exemptions that may be filed in FY 2011, and fluctuations in the number of licenses or station operators due to economic, technical, or other reasons. The estimated FY 2011 payment units, therefore, are based on several variable factors that are relevant to each fee category. The fee rate may also be rounded or adjusted slightly to account for these variables. Regarding low power, Class A, and TV translator/boosters, the FCC said a fee will be assessed for each facility operating either in an analog or digital mode. In instances in which a licensee is operating in both an analog and digital mode as a simulcast, a single regulatory fee will be assessed for this analog facility that has a digital companion channel. As greater numbers of facilities convert to digital mode, the Commission will provide revised instructions on how regulatory fees will be assessed. The FCC concluded that the FY 2011 Commercial Mobile Radio Service (CMRS) Messaging regulatory fee should remain at a rate of $0.08 per subscriber. The fee rate for the Private Land Mobile Radio Service (PLMRS) (Shared) fee category is $20 per year for a 10-year license. The Interstate Telecommunications Service Provider (ITSP) fee rate will be $.00375 per revenue dollar. Consistent with its established practice, the FCC said it intends to collect the regulatory fees during a September 2011 filing window in order to collect the required amount by the end of the current fiscal year. The Commission said it will initiate a further rulemaking that will update the record on regulatory fee rebalancing, as well as expand its inquiry to include new issues and services, by the end of this calendar year. BloostonLaw contacts: Hal Mordkofsky, John Prendergast, and Richard Rubino.
SUBSTANTIAL SERVICE DEADLINE FOR STATE-LICENSED 700 MHz PUBLIC SAFETY NARROWBAND CHANNELS IS JUNE 13, 2014: The FCC has issued a Declaratory Ruling, clarifying that the five- and ten-year substantial service deadlines applicable to state-licensed 700 MHz public safety narrowband channels (set forth in section 90.529(b)) to comply with substantial service requirements on their statewide narrowband channels run from the actual DTV transition date of June 12, 2009. Specifically, the five-year benchmark date will fall on June 13, 2014, five years after the June 12, 2009, final DTV transition date. Similarly, the ten-year benchmark date will fall on June 13, 2019, ten years after the final DTV transition date. In issuing this clarification, the FCC observed that it has always been the Commission’s intent that the five- and ten-year substantial service periods for the statewide narrowband channels would commence upon the actual DTV transition date. The FCC said the original language of section 90.529(b) indicates as much, expressly describing the deadlines as occurring five and ten years from “the date that incumbent broadcasters are required to relocate to other portions of the spectrum.” The Commission said its failure to update the numerical five- and ten-year dates set forth in section 90.529(b) to reflect the extension of the DTV transition date to June 12, 2009, was an inadvertent omission. With this Declaratory Ruling, the FCC said, it corrects that administrative oversight and provides clarity to state public safety licensees. BloostonLaw contacts: Hal Mordkofsky, John Prendergast, Richard Rubino, and Cary Mitchell.
FCC PUBLISHES 2011-12 TRS FUND RATES, EFFECTIVE JULY 1: The FCC has published in the Federal Register its Notice approving the per-minute compensation rates to be paid from the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) Fund for the 2011-12 Fund year for all forms of TRS (BloostonLaw Telecom Update, July 6). Except for the rates for video relay service (VRS), these rates are based on the proposals of the Fund administrator. For VRS, the Commission adopted, until further notice, the current interim rates that were adopted for the 2010-11 Fund year. The VRS rates will be in effect on an interim basis until the Commission completes its examination of VRS rates and compensation as part of the 2010 VRS Notice of Inquiry (NOI) proceeding. Thus, as of July 1, 2011, the per-minute rates for TRS shall be: $1.8611 for interstate traditional TRS; $2.9921 for Speech-to-Speech (STS) service; $1.7630 for captioned telephone service (CTS) and Internet Protocol (IP) CTS; and $1.2920 for IP Relay. The interim rates for VRS shall continue to be: $6.2390 for Tier I, $6.2335 for Tier II, and $5.0668 for Tier III. Based on the adoption of these rates and the Fund administrator's proposals for additional funding requirements, the Commission adopted a carrier contribution factor of 0.01058, and a funding requirement of $740,399,393.56 for the period of July 1, 2011, through June 30, 2012. On March 7, 2011, the Commission awarded a contract to Rolka Loube Saltzer Associates, LLC (RLSA) to administer the Fund beginning July 1, 2011. RLSA's administrative expenses of $965,000 under the contract are included in the previous Fund administrator's proposed funding requirement for the 2011-12 Fund year. In addition to the per-minute costs of service and administrator costs, the Commission adopted additional funding for the expenses of the revenue data collection agent of $60,000, expenses related to the Interstate TRS Advisory Council of $55,000, expenses related to an audit of the Fund administrator of $50,000, the contractual costs of $385,000 for the iTRS database administrator in its funding requirement proposal, and a $10,000,000 funding requirement for the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP) mandated by Congress. BloostonLaw contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and Mary Sisak.
U.S. TELECOM CHIEF SEES UNEVEN TREATMENT BETWEEN FACEBOOK, TELCOs: Walter McCormick, president of U.S. Telecom, last week called on lawmakers to consider the uneven regulatory treatment between Facebook and telecommunications carriers, according to the National Journal. Facebook can offer Internet-based telephone services without regulation, yet wireless and landline telephone companies have heavy regulatory burdens, McCormick said. "Facebook is free of any regulation whatsoever," McCormick emphasized at a Minority Media and Telecommunications Council conference. National Journal reported that McCormick said that while there is expanding competition and expanding consumer choice, one segment of the industry (telecommunications carriers) continues to be regulated “in a way that limits our flexibility to innovate and to meet emerging competition." McCormick pointed out that Facebook's user base of 750 million outnumbers that of any single phone company, and that the company now provides voice capabilities through a partnership with Skype. "It's a tale of two networks—ours, built on wireline networks, and theirs built on software," McCormick said, according to the National Journal. BloostonLaw contacts: Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and Mary Sisak.
FCC RELEASES SIX MEDIA OWNERSHIP STUDIES: The FCC has released the final six research studies on media ownership. The studies are intended to inform the Commission’s quadrennial review of its media ownership rules pursuant to the MB Docket No. 09-182 rulemaking proceeding. On June 15, 2011, the Media Bureau released the Protective Order that established the procedures for public review of the proprietary portions of data sets created by the authors of the studies. The Commission will seek formal comment on all 11 studies within the context of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in this proceeding and requests that all comments on the studies be submitted to the Commission for consideration at that time. The six studies, which were conducted by outside researchers and by Commission staff, examine a range of issues that impact diversity, competition, and localism, three policy goals of the media ownership rules. The Commission is making the studies and any peer reviews available on the Commission’s website at http://www.fcc.gov/ownership . The new studies are:
- Media Ownership Study 1, Local Media Ownership and Media Quality, by Adam D. Rennhoff and Kenneth C. Wilbur.
- Media Ownership Study 4, Local Information Programming and the Structure of Television Markets, by Jack Erb.
- Media Ownership Study 10, Broadcast Ownership Rules and Innovation, by Andrew S. Wise.
- Media Ownership Study 2, Consumer Valuation of Media as a Function of Local Market Structure, by Scott J. Savage and Donald M. Waldman.
- Media Ownership Study 8A, Local Media Ownership and Viewpoint Diversity in Local Television News, by Adam D. Rennhoff and Kenneth C. Wilbur.
- Media Ownership Study 8B, Diversity in Local Television News, by Lisa M. George and Felix Oberholzer-Gee.
BloostonLaw contacts: Hal Mordkofsky, Ben Dickens, Gerry Duffy, and John Prendergast.
This newsletter is not intended to provide legal advice. Those interested in more information should contact the firm.