Overnight Tech: FCC to vote on ad disclosure rules

LEDE: Cable and satellite TV operators, as well as radio stations, will likely soon have to begin publishing online records about the groups buying political and other ads. A Federal Communications Commission vote Thursday is expected to bring those industries in line with broadcast TV, which already has to make the online disclosures. The order is a small victory for transparency advocates ahead of the presidential primary season. Advocates, though, have unsuccessfully pressed the FCC to take greater steps to identify the true sponsors of political ads.

The commission will also vote on whether to release the 2016 Broadband Progress Report. It said that around 34 million Americans still lack access to fixed broadband. As it has before, the chairman's draft of the report includes a finding that "advanced telecommunications capability" isn't being deployed to Americans in a "reasonable and timely fashion." That gives the commission more authority to facilitate deployment.

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There are likely to be some flashpoints when the item comes up. Critics haven't gotten over the commission's decision, last year, to boost benchmark speeds for fixed broadband to 25 Mbps for downloads and 3 Mbps for uploads. There's also been some displeasure over the decision to say that "advanced telecommunications capability" requires both wired and wireless broadband. Commissioners will also weigh a notice of proposed rulemaking related to the emergency alerts system.

SLEEP IN: The meeting, originally planned for 10:30 a.m., is now scheduled for 1:00 p.m.

SPLIT ON CABLE BOXES: The FCC's announcement that it would move on a proposal to update rules for cable boxes unsurprisingly drew praise from Democrats, discontent from the cable industry and skepticism from Hill Republicans.

"I commend Chairman Wheeler for his proposal to help ensure that consumers are not captive to bloated rental fees forever," said Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyHillicon Valley: Lawmakers target Chinese tech giants | Dems move to save top cyber post | Trump gets a new CIA chief | Ryan delays election security briefing | Twitter CEO meets lawmakers Twitter CEO meets with lawmakers to talk net neutrality, privacy Senate votes to save net neutrality rules MORE (D-Mass.) in a statement. "Consumer choice should fuel the video box market, not cable company control."

Cable trade group NCTA decried the FCC's action, calling it a "technology mandate that would replace app innovation with government regulation." Additional pushback came from the brand new Future of TV coalition, which is made up in part of industry groups.

"The future of pay-TV should not be inhibited by unnecessary government involvement," said Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio). "Instead, the marketplace should be advanced and shaped by consumer demands and competition. The FCC's proposal will inevitably lead to higher costs and less choices for the American people." Senate Commerce Committee John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneHillicon Valley: Mnuchin urges antitrust review of tech | Progressives want to break up Facebook | Classified election security briefing set for Tuesday | Tech CEOs face pressure to appear before Congress Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA Post-Zuckerberg, tech CEOs under pressure to testify MORE (R-S.D.) said he hadn't been able to examine the item yet at length.

HISTORY OF THE 25 MBPS BENCHMARK: Public Knowledge's Harold Feld wrote a detailed history of the FCC's broadband speed benchmark, pointing out that it was a Republican-led FCC, under former Chairman Kevin Martin, that first started dividing broadband speed measurements into tiers in order to measure the "migration of customers and service to higher speed tiers." Feld traced that to the FCC's current broadband speed benchmark of 25/3 Mbps. Republicans and telecom companies have recently criticized the FCC's current broadband benchmark as too high and inconsistent.

AUCTION NO MATCH FOR SNOWZILLA: Starting Wednesday, wireless providers can apply to participate in the "forward" portion of the broadcast spectrum incentive auction. Applications opened one day late "due to severe weather in the Washington, DC area." The filing deadline has been delayed a day as well, until February 10.

IOWA FACEBOOK CHATTER: Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpRed states find there’s no free pass on Medicaid changes from Trump Trump meets with Moon in crucial moment for Korea summit The Memo: Trump flirts with constitutional crisis MORE is the most mentioned GOP presidential candidate on Facebook in Iowa, according to data from Echelon Insights. A total of 57 percent of mentions were about Trump, 29 percent were about Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenators near deal on sexual harassment policy change Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA Five Republican run-offs to watch in Texas MORE and 8 percent mentioned Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRubio: Kaepernick deserves to be in the NFL Congress — when considering women’s health, don’t forget about lung cancer Anti-Maduro Venezuelans not unlike anti-Castro Cubans of yore MORE. On the Democratic side, 50 percent of candidate posts were about Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersClinton backs Georgia governor hopeful on eve of primary The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — Frenzy over Kennedy retirement rumors | Trump challenges DOJ Bernie Sanders announces Senate reelection bid MORE, while 48 percent were about Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClinton backs Georgia governor hopeful on eve of primary Pressure rising on GOP after Trump–DOJ fight’s latest turn Press: Why Trump should thank FBI MORE. The two most shared posts were a Daily Show segment mocking Trump's Liberty University speech and a Trump campaign video about how to caucus in Iowa. The analysis was based on 60,100 posts and shares in the state in the past week.

 

ON TAP:

At 10 a.m., the Senate Judiciary Committee plans to markup the Judicial Redress Act.

At 1 p.m., the FCC will hold its January open meeting.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Fox News's ratings Thursday night will be closely watched as it hosts the first GOP presidential debate of the cycle without front-runner Donald Trump, though the network says none of its advertisers have tried to back out.

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Wednesday moved toward setting new rules that agency officials say will make it easier for consumers to use a variety of devices to view video through pay-TV services.

A group of top U.S. officials and business leaders visited Cuba last week to urge the government there to more rapidly build out its Internet infrastructure and make it more widely available.

Ride-hailing service Lyft is set to pay more than $12 million to settle a case brought by drivers in California who say that they were inappropriately classified by the company as independent contractors rather than employees.

Foreign cyber spies could be stealing "crucial" national security information because of a little-discussed software flaw, Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) said in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

 

 

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