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 Kerry (D-Mass.) vowing to introduce a bill
overhauling the rules for such negotiations, and Rep. Edward Markey
(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

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

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

“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.”

Edit board: ‘Boxer will best rep Silicon Valley’

The San
Jose Mercury News
endorsed Sen. Barbara Boxer (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.”


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

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

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.

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.


“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.

Tags Barbara Boxer Edward Markey John Kerry

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