Overnight Technology

Overnight Tech: Franken wants ‘highest’ scrutiny on cable merger

LEDE: Democratic Sen. Al Franken is not sold on the proposed merger of Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications, and has asked regulators to apply the “highest level of scrutiny.”

The Minnesota Democrat sent another letter on Thursday to the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department expressing concerns about further consolidation in the media industry. He asked regulators to explore whether the “potential competitive harms of this transaction continue to outweigh these promised benefits.”

{mosads}His letter focuses mostly on the deal’s effects on rural broadband buildout and includes tougher language than his previous letter sent when the deal was first proposed in May. Franken came out strongly against the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger earlier this year, which fell apart amid concerns from regulators. 

The proposed Charter deal has been more successful in convincing other industry players of its merits. It has proposed a number of early concessions on net neutrality and interconnection. Both Netflix and Cogent have supported the conditions. 

GOOGLE SAYS MOBILE TOPS PC SEARCHES: A Google executive said Thursday that mobile searches exceeded queries sent from PCs worldwide for the first time this summer. That was already true in the United States. 

COGENT AND TIME WARNER REACH INTERCONNECTION DEAL: Time Warner Cable and Cogent Communications struck an interconnection deal that will allow Internet traffic to flow between the two providers. The news comes as Time Warner Cable is looking to merge with Charter Communications. The company’s previous merger bid with Comcast previously fell apart, amid questions about interconnection and competition in the online video market. Terms of the Thursday agreement were not disclosed — other than that the deal is “long-term.”

VERIZON RAISING PRICE ON UNLIMITED DATA PLANS: The small group of Verizon customers who have an unlimited plan will see their bills increase by about 60 percent in November. In an attempt to wean off the 1 percent of Verizon customers who have a grandfathered unlimited plan, Verizon plans to raise the price per phone line by $20. Verizon and most other phone carriers have scrapped their unlimited data plans, but some customers who had the unlimited plan in place before the change have been able to hold on to the old deals. 

AND NETFLIX UPS SUBSCRIPTIONS BY A DOLLAR: The streaming service will charge a dollar more — $9.99 instead of $8.99 — for its standard plan.

MCCARTHY NEWS MAKES TWITTER MOMENT: Twitter’s two-day-old editorial feature aimed at opening up the platform to novice users got an early test in the Capitol on Thursday as it curated the bombshell news that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was pulling out of the running for House Speaker. The Twitter feature, called Moments, aims to curate high-profile events through a series of important tweets picked out by the company’s own staff. 

FACEBOOK’S NEW ‘LIKE’ TESTING: Facebook is rolling out an expanded “like” button for testing in Ireland and Spain, but it does not include the “dislike” button that some have called for. Instead, hovering over the button reveals an expanded list of emojis that can portray emotion like love, excitement, laughter, surprise, sadness and, of course, anger. 

LYFT ROLLS OUT DRIVER PERKS: Ride-hailing app Lyft is offering more perks for its drivers under the tagline “We Treat You Better.” That includes the ability to earn reward points at Shell gas stations and discounts on Hertz car rentals. It’s an obvious shot in the war between Lyft and Uber for drivers. Lyft has sought to portray itself as more concerned about its workforce than Uber, which some critics say uses its contractors to fuel its growth without giving them sufficient protections.


At 10:15 a.m., the House Committee on Space, Science and Technology hosts a hearing entitled “Deep Space Exploration: Examining the Impact of the President’s Budget”


The popular style of Bikram yoga is not entitled to copyright protection, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in an opinion handed out Thursday.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Thursday called on the federal government to make computer coding classes a requirement of high-school graduation. 

A top AT&T executive said at a conference Wednesday he doubted that an upcoming wireless spectrum auction will raise $60 billion, as some have estimated.

Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly (Va.) on Thursday gave a near endorsement for the public to ignore Supreme Court rules and sneak cameras into its open proceedings. 

The lawmaker behind a bill giving Congress oversight of the transition shifting control of the Internet domain name system away from the U.S. said Wednesday he disagrees with critics who question whether the transition is entirely legal.

— This post has been updated to reflect the correct time of the Science Committee hearing.  

Please send tips and comments to David McCabe, dmccabe@thehill.comand Mario Trujillo,mtrujillo@thehill.com Follow us on Twitter:@HilliconValley@dmccabe


Tags Al Franken Cable merger Charter Communications Gerry Connolly Time Warner Cable
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