Senate Committee Passes Satellite Television Access and Viewer Rights Act
On September 17, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee passed the Satellite Television Access and Viewer Rights Act (STAVRA) (S.2799). The legislation would extend the authority of satellite television carriers to retransmit certain television broadcast station signals and make several reforms to video policy. The bill includes “must-pass” provisions to reauthorize through 2019 statutory satellite television retransmission licenses for distant broadcast network television signals that are set to expire at the end of 2014. Passage of the legislation by the end of the year is necessary to ensure that 1.5 million satellite pay television subscribers maintain access to those signals. Although a draft of the bill included a “local choice” proposal that would have replaced the retransmission negotiation process between broadcasters and multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) with à la carte broadcast offerings for MVPD subscribers at a price set by each broadcaster, this proposal was not part of the bill passed by the committee. In addition, the legislation would give the FCC 910 days to eliminate its set-top box integrated security ban and require the FCC to establish a working group to develop downloadable security standards. The bill also would require the FCC to conduct a rulemaking regarding whether joint negotiations by unaffiliated broadcasters or blocking access to online content would be a violation of good faith obligations and a rulemaking to streamline the process for cable system operators to file “effective competition” petitions seeking rate deregulation.
Senate Passes E-LABEL Act
On September 18, the Senate passed the Enhance Labeling, Accessing, and Branding of Electronic Licenses Act of 2014 (E-LABEL Act) (S.2583) to permit the use of electronic labeling of devices that require FCC certification, such as phones, computers and other electronic devices. The legislation allows electronics manufacturers to display the required FCC label of approval on the screen instead of on a physical label on the device or product. The House of Representatives passed a companion bill (H.R.5161) on September 11, and the legislation is ready to be signed into law.
Technological Advisory Council Meeting on September 23
The FCC will hold the next Technological Advisory Council meeting (TAC) from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, September 23 in the Commission meeting room. The TAC comprises a group of leading technology experts that provide recommendations to the FCC on various policies relating to technology and US competition abroad. Dennis Roberson (Vice Provost and Research Professor, Illinois Institute of Technology) is Chairman of the Council; Walter Johnston (Chief of the Electromagnetic Compatibility Division) is the Designated Federal Officer; and Julius Knapp (Chief of the Office of Engineering and Technology) is the Alternate Designated Federal Officer.
Fifth Communications Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council IV Meeting on September 24
The FCC’s Communications Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council (CSRIC) will meet on Wednesday, September 24, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. for the fifth time since its initial charter was created. According to a Commission press release, “the CSRIC is a federal advisory committee that provides recommendations to the Commission regarding best practices and actions the Commission can take to help ensure security, reliability, and interoperability of commercial and public safety communications systems, including: the reliability and security of communications systems and infrastructure; 911, Enhanced 911 (E911), and Next Generation 911; and emergency alerting.” The working groups will provide progress reports, with votes scheduled for reports on Next Generation 911; Remediation of Server-Based DDoS Attacks; Long-Term Core Internet Protocol Improvements; Legacy Best Practice Updates; and CPE Powering. The CSRIC charter was renewed last year on March 19, 2013 for a period of two years through May 19, 2015. The meeting, which will be open to the general public, will be held in the Commission Meeting Room at FCC Headquarters, located at 445 12th Street, SW, Room TW-C305, Washington, DC 20554.
Termination of Dormant Proceedings
Last week the FCC announced that it would terminate hundreds of additional dormant proceedings. Hundreds of other proceedings were terminated in September 2012 and November 2011 after the February 2011 revision to Commission procedures which instituted a periodical review of all open dockets in an effort to cancel those dockets with little to no activity.
Last week during National Health IT Week, Commissioner Clyburn spoke at two events aimed at bringing attention to Connected Care issues, highlighting the telemedicine focus currently igniting dialogue across the government. Last Monday, September 15, Commissioner Clyburn presented the keynote address at the 4th Annual Consumer Health Summit, and on Tuesday, September 16, the Commissioner presented at the First Annual National Health IT Collaborative for the Underserved Conference. Earlier this year, the Commission increased its work in this area, creating the Connect2Health Task Force and appointing Michele Ellison (former Chief of the Enforcement Bureau) to helm the group.