Legislative and Regulatory Activity
FCC Process Reform Legislation
In less than 10 minutes, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology favorably reported the committee prints for the “FCC Process Reform Act of 2013” and “FCC Consolidated Reporting Act of 2013,” each by voice vote. Perhaps more noteworthy, however, Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Ranking Member Anna Eshoo (D-CA) announced their intention to work together over the August recess to construct a bipartisan substitute for the FCC Process Reform Act, which, in its current form, remains a concern for many committee Democrats. That bill and the FCC Consolidated Reform Act appear ripe for full committee consideration in early September.
Incentive Auction Hearing
The House Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology held an oversight hearing regarding the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) implementation of the incentive auction mandated by the JOBS Act. Committee members expressed their desire to ensure broadcasters are treated fairly and are properly incentivized to participate. Several fault lines emerged during the hearing, such as Republican concerns regarding proposed auction procedures that might discourage large wireless carriers from participating in the auction. In their view, such limitations would be contrary to law and would lead to a less successful auction. Democrat members largely disagreed.
The House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet convened a hearing to explore the role of copyrights in American innovation. During the hearing, Full Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) explained that copyright owners and the technology sector “have a symbiotic relationship and are responsible for significant [American] innovation.” The subcommittee will hold a second hearing to address copyright issues from the perspective of the technology sector.
Google Settles Charges With FTC
Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) approved a modified Final Order settling charges that some of Google Inc.’s business practices dealing with patents held by its subsidiary, Motorola Mobility LLC, could stifle competition among manufacturers of electronic devices. The Final Order requires Google to abide by its commitments to license its standard-essential patents on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms.
A recent court order overturned the FCC order that contained certain technical rules regarding the implementation of CableCARDs. The court concluded that the FCC exceeded its authority when it applied certain rules to digital broadcast satellite operations. In response to the court order, TiVo Inc. filed a petition for rulemaking requesting that the FCC adopt rules that clearly permit cable customers to continue to use competitive set-top boxes with CableCARDs. Comments and reply comments regarding TiVo’s petition are due by September 16 and October 9, respectively.
E-rate Form Updates
The FCC released a Public Notice announcing more proposed revisions to E-rate forms, this time to FCC Form 479 (Certification by Administrative Authority to Billed Entity of CIPA Compliance), Form 486 (Receipt of Service Confirmation and CIPA and Technology Plan Certification), and Form 500 (Funding Commitment Adjustment Request Form). The proposed changes clarify and/or update the information requests on the forms to reflect changes in the FCC’s rules and administrative procedures. Comments and reply comments concerning the revised forms are due by August 14, and August 28, respectively.
This Week’s Hearings:
- Friday, August 2: FCC Consumer Advisory Committee Meeting.
- Friday, August 2: Annual Review of the E-rate Eligible Services List, Comment Deadline