Overnight Technology

Overnight Tech: Univision will lift AT&T blackout for Dem debate

LEDE: Univision will temporarily remove a blackout on many of AT&T’s U-Verse television customers for Wednesday night’s Democratic primary debate. 

The popular Spanish language broadcast station and U-Verse are in a dispute about the price required to carry the channel. While the negotiations continue, the channel is blocked for many customers. But Univision is helping to sponsor the Democratic debate in Florida on Wednesday, and it will put the blackout on hold for the forum. 

{mosads}Univision earlier this week said it stands with the Hispanic community and said it was taking a stand to require distributors to “treat us on par with English-language broadcasters.” AT&T said it remains committed to Spanish-language channels and pointed back to its record on diversity. While Univision has leveraged the blackout on U-Verse, AT&T has reportedly directed disgruntled customers to the larger DirecTV, which is owned by AT&T and also carries the station.  

DEM CONGRESSMAN GETS INVOLVED: Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, sent out a statement Tuesday urging the companies to quickly resolve the dispute to ensure the “Latino community can continue accessing the content they choose at this pivotal time for our country.”

“The Latino community has an unprecedented opportunity this year to be a strong and decisive voice in our nation’s future,” he said. “Few things would be more detrimental to this potential than limiting the viewing options for one of the Latino community’s most trusted sources of information.”

SENATE COMMERCE TO LOOK AT SELF-DRIVING CARS: Chris Urmson, the leader of Google’s self-driving car project and one of its most public faces, is coming to Congress. He’ll be a witness at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on self-driving cars next Tuesday. It will also feature witnesses from Lyft, its partner General Motors and Delphi, a company that has also been testing autonomous vehicles in California. The hearing comes as the Obama administration gets more involved in the debate over self-driving cars. Its decision to help craft a guideline for state policymakers has been met with praise from industry.

FCC APPROPS HEARING ON THE BOOKS: Chairman Tom Wheeler and Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai are scheduled to come up to the Hill the same day to testify on the agency’s budget request before a subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee.

QUESTION SUGGESTIONS BEFORE OBAMA’S SXSW TALK: Evan Smith, the editor-in-chief of the Texas Tribune, is soliciting reader questions ahead of his interview with President Obama on Friday at South by Southwest. The conversation will hinge around how the technology sector can contribute to the public interest. 

REPUBLICANS STILL REVIEWING LIFELINE DRAFT: The FCC on Tuesday previewed draft rules to begin offering Internet subsidies to the poor. Skeptical Republicans had called for a cap on the expanded program, known as Lifeline, and a $2.25 billion budget was included in the draft. It is much higher than the $1.5 billion currently spent per year on the program and is unlikely to win them over. Republican FCC commissioner Michael O’Rielly issued a statement saying he would have to look at the particulars, but criticized the chairman’s office for sending him a copy after it was already described in the press. 

SUBSIDIES WILL NOT SOLVE THE WHOLE PROBLEM: Amid the Lifeline news, Comcast weighed in by reminding people that there are more barriers to Internet adoption than price. It cited statistics that have found many people who do not use the Internet do not see the relevance. The company has its own discounted program for low-income families. It had kind words for the Lifeline expansion but said cost controls will be important. 

CLYBURN SNAGS ESHOO TECH ADVISER: David Grossman, who most recently advised House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Ranking Member Anna Eshoo on tech and telecom issues is joining FCC Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn as Chief of Staff and Media Policy Advisor. “David brings to the Commission a unique set of skills, building on his experience from Capitol Hill and the private sector,” she said in a statement. Daudeline Meme has been appointed Legal Advisor on wireless, international and public safety issues, according to Clyburn’s office.


At 9 a.m., New America will start its cybersecurity conference.


When the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced Tuesday it would extend federal Lifeline subsidies to help cover Internet service costs, it again had to decide what Internet speed should be the standard

Yelp is poking fun at the flare-up over the size of Donald Trump’s hands.

Nearly 40 million households will be eligible for small monthly Internet subsidies after the Federal Communications Commission approves final regulations at the end of the month.

The White House on Monday rolled out a project designed to make it easier for developers to use government data to help those in need at the local level.

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and other influential tech insiders filed a brief with the Supreme Court supporting President Obama’s executive action on immigration


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

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