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Good Morning Tech: Fox-Cablevision battle reaches day three

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Where was Speaker Pelosi on Thursday? Visiting the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Wash. See a slideshow here.

TV blackout heads into day three


Sunday ended without a resolution to the fee dispute between News Corp. and Cablevision, meaning that Fox channels will remain blacked out for Cablevision subscribers for a third day.

Both sides promised to return to the negotiation table on Monday. A statement from Fox said "no material progress was made" over the weekend.

Read here to see how Capitol Hill has weighed in on the issue, with Sen. John KerryJohn KerryChina emitted more greenhouse gasses than US, developed world combined in 2019: analysis Overnight Energy: Republicans request documents on Kerry's security clearance process| EPA official directs agency to ramp up enforcement in overburdened communities | Meet Flint prosecutor Kym Worthy Republicans request documents on Kerry's security clearance process MORE (D-Mass.) vowing to introduce a bill overhauling the rules for such negotiations, and Rep. Edward MarkeyEd MarkeySenators ask airlines to offer cash refunds for unused flight credits Civilian Climate Corps can help stem rural-urban divide Senate votes to nix Trump rule limiting methane regulation MORE (D-Mass.) raising the possibility that Fox had breached net neutrality policies when it blocked its content to Cablevision Internet users.

First look: May says free market absent in retrans negotiations

Randolph May, president of the free-market think tank the Free State Foundation, will release a paper on Monday weighing in on a timely issue: retransmission consent negotiations. These are the negotiations between broadcast companies and cable/satellite operators regarding the fees broadcasters receive when their content is aired on, for instance, a cable channel.

Cable and satellite companies want an overhaul to retransmission consent rules because they say the talks favor the broadcasters, who can pull their content. (Timely example: Fox channels went black over the weekend for Cablevision subscribers after the cable company and News Corp. failed to reach an agreement on fees).

Broadcasters say it is unnecessary to overhaul the negotiation rules. They sometimes argue that the government should keep its hands out of a free-market negotiation process. 

May, in a paper he will release Monday, disputes that premise. This is a possibly surprising position for such a staunch free-market advocate. As he writes in the paper, "At the Free State Foundation, we aspire to play second fiddle to no one in favoring unfettered bargaining between private parties in a true competitive, free-market context." 

But in May's view, the free market is not at work in the negotiations between broadcasters and cable/satellite operators. "At FSF, we know a free market when we see one," he writes. On the contrary, the negotiations occur in the context of federal law and regulation, "with elements of private bargaining with forced access and protectionist elements."

Cable group: Outdated retrans law passed when Zuck was 8

The American Cable Association (ACA) called for an update to retransmission consent rules which have "become a federal license for broadcasters to threaten TV station blackouts, actually pull TV station signals and engage in flagrant acts of price discrimination against rural cable customers," according to a statement from the group's president, Matthew Polka.

"This outdated law, passed when Facebook's famous co-founder was just 8 years old, is a club used by avaricious media giants to pound pay-TV providers into submission," he said.

"By law, Fox is supposed to serve the public interest and not act as an anti-social network."

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Edit board: 'Boxer will best rep Silicon Valley'

The San Jose Mercury News endorsed Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerBottom line Trump administration halting imports of cotton, tomatoes from Uighur region of China Biden inaugural committee to refund former senator's donation due to foreign agent status MORE (D-Calif.) in her race against Republican nominee Carly Fiorina, former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard. "Incumbent Barbara Boxer is the U.S. Senate candidate who will best represent Silicon Valley," the editorial board writes.

"If Boxer were as unfriendly to business as Fiorina makes her out to be, she wouldn't have the backing of Chambers or other valley heavyweights such as Google CEO Eric Schmidt, venture capitalist John Doerr and eBay CEO John Donahoe. ... Boxer is not the most collaborative senator, but her tech credentials are impeccable."

Scheduled.

President Obama will host the White House Science Fair Monday at noon to celebrate the winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competitions. The event is part of a commitment the president made at the launch of his Educate to Innovate campaign in November 2009 to improve student performance in science and math by recognizing achievements by students in those fields. Read more in The Hill.

At 9 a.m., the New America Foundation will host an event on the use of technology in education. Speakers include Tim Vollmer, open policy fellow at Creative Commons, and Sascha Meinrath, director of NAF's Open Technology Initiative.

Executive notes

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Gates downplays leak. Wikileaks' publication of 70,000 classified military documents in July did not out any critical sources of intelligence in Afghanistan, according to a letter from Defense Secretary Robert Gates. In a letter to lawmakers dated Aug. 16 and obtained by CNN, Gates asserts that while the online whistleblower's publication of the documents did pose a risk to national security, it did not compromise any key sources of intel.

DHS using social media to check for marriage fraud. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services documents obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request by the advocacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation show immigration agents were instructed on how to "friend" applicants for citizenship on social networks such as Facebook in order to observe their lives and determine whether applicants for citizenship are guilty of entering into "green card marriages."

Industry notes

Facebook in privacy breach. Many of the most popular Facebook apps "have been transmitting identifying information — in effect, providing access to people's names and, in some cases, their friends' names — to dozens of advertising and Internet tracking companies, a Wall Street Journal investigation has found."

Stearns to speak to domain-name industry. Influential Florida Rep. Cliff Stearns (R) will become the highest-ranking government official to address the domain-name industry in Miami Beach on Monday. Stearns will speak at Traffic, which bills itself as the largest meeting of people and firms in the business of Web addresses. The more than 500 attendees will include domain-name registration companies, media, investors and "parking companies" that purchase domain names for the purpose of reselling them.

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Yahoo still stagnant two years into CEO's tenure. Nearly two years after the hiring of Carol Bartz, Yahoo is still suffering from many of the same symptoms: a stagnant business, shrinking market share and a shortage of innovation.

Rural phone companies: Blame big carriers for 'bill shock.' Rural phone companies said Friday they should not have to follow "bill shock" regulations just because bigger phone companies are failing their customers. They argue any notification rules implemented by the FCC should be flexible enough to avoid crippling smaller carriers.

Microsoft gives free software licenses to nonprofits. Microsoft is significantly expanding its efforts to prevent governments from using software piracy inquiries as a pretext to suppress dissent. The software giant plans to provide free software licenses to more than 500,000 advocacy groups, independent media outlets and other nonprofit organizations in 12 countries with tightly controlled governments, including Russia and China.

Apple turning more attention to corporate market. Apple will unveil a new version of its operating system on Wednesday, a development that comes as the consumer-electronics giant makes a more aggressive move to expand in a market that has historically eluded it: corporate customers.

SAID

“Your mom and your boyfriend are rarely in the same room, and that’s why Christmas and Thanksgiving are such a stressful time for people, because their worlds collapse. On Facebook you’re in a long extended Thanksgiving dinner with everyone you ever knew, and people find that difficult to deal with.”

— Zeynep Tufekci, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, who studies the social impacts of technology. The comments were made in a New York Times article about how our identities can collide on Facebook.