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 MarkeyEd MarkeyOvernight Energy: Trump set to sign offshore drilling order Sanders: Trump couldn't be 'more wrong' on climate Overnight Cybersecurity: Ex-officials warn 'Buy American' might harm Pentagon cybersecurity | Chair nudges Trump on cyber order | House gets security training 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 ThuneWant to grow the economy? Make student loan repayment assistance tax-free. Net neutrality fight descends into trench warfare Hopes fade for using tax reform on infrastructure 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 TrumpEPA removes climate change page from website Trump claims millions in savings on Air Force One Presidents with the worst first 100 days 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 CruzTed CruzTrump in campaign mode at NRA convention Trump’s hands are tied on 9th Circuit Schumer: Trump's handling of North Korea 'all wrong' MORE and 8 percent mentioned Marco RubioMarco RubioOvernight Defense: Commander calls North Korea crisis 'worst' he's seen | Trump signs VA order | Dems push Trump to fill national security posts What’s with Trump’s spelling mistakes? Boeing must be stopped from doing business with Iran MORE. On the Democratic side, 50 percent of candidate posts were about Bernie SandersBernie SandersNRA head: Sanders 'a political predator' What would Bernie say to Wall Street for 0K? Sanders warns of possible nuclear war with North Korea MORE, while 48 percent were about Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonTrump in campaign mode at NRA convention Vicente Fox to Trump: ‘Being president ain’t easy’ When political opportunity knocked, Jason Chaffetz never failed to cash in 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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