THE LEDE: Robert McDowell, a Republican on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), warned his fellow commissioners to not "over-engineer" planned auctions of airwave licenses at a congressional hearing on Monday.
The tax cut extension that Congress passed last month included provisions that authorized the FCC to auction airwaves, known as spectrum, that currently belong to television broadcasters, splitting some of the revenue with the stations that choose to participate. The spectrum is potentially worth billions of dollars to wireless carriers, which are struggling to meet the growing data demands of smartphones and tablet computers.
But McDowell said the FCC should not try to pick winners and losers as it sets up the auctions.
"History has proven that regulators’ attempts to over-engineer spectrum auctions often result in harmful, unintended consequences. Thus, I hope all of us can apply the lessons learned from the Commission’s past missteps as we implement this new legislation," McDowell said.
He said he will work with his colleagues "to ensure that our auction rules are minimal and 'future proof,' allowing for flexible uses in the years to come as technology and markets change."
But he expressed confidence that the FCC will "get it right."
"And 'getting it right' means avoiding regulatory hubris by keeping the government’s hands off of the marketplace’s steering wheel as much as possible," McDowell said.
He made the remarks at hearing of the House Appropriations Committee's subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government to examine the FCC's budget.
At the same hearing, Genachowski said the auctions "are an opportunity to unleash vitally needed additional spectrum for mobile broadband and create tremendous value for American consumers, while raising billions of dollars for deficit reduction."
Genachowski had urged Congress not to restrict the FCC's ability to structure the auctions.
"At the FCC, we're focused on faithfully implementing the incentive auctions provisions adopted by Congress, and maximizing the opportunities of the new law for our economy and all Americans," Genachowski said.
New iPad tops 3 million sales in three days: Apple sold more than 3 million new iPads in the first three days they were on sale, the company announced Monday.
Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, said it was the "strongest iPad launch yet."
Apple also announced Monday it would pay a dividend to shareholders and buy back stock, moves that will cost about $45 billion over three years.
But Apple — which, like several other Silicon Valley titans, has spent months lobbying for more flexibility to repatriate offshore profits — said it will rely exclusively on domestic cash reserves for the transactions and will not touch the billions in profits held abroad.
"Repatriating the cash from offshore would result in significant tax consequences under current U.S. law," Apple Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer said on a conference call.
Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) grilled FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski on Monday about his agency’s move to require online databases of political advertising at TV stations.
A handful of technology companies, including Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple are gaining greater control over the news media, according to the Pew Center's annual report on American journalism, released Monday.
The Pentagon is investing heavily in an arsenal of cyberweapons as a debate rages in Congress about how and when they should be used.
Commerce Secretary John Bryson and European Union Commissioner Viviane Reding on Monday committed to work together to protect online privacy.