After much speculation and guess-work, President-elect Barack Obama has chosen his former Harvard Law classmate Julian Genachoswski as nominee for chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.
from Summit Notebook:
It's not every day that you have a top executive in big business talk about how nice it will be to see the back of the Bush administration. Republican presidencies typically tout their adherence to free markets, unbridled capitalism and, most importantly, a smaller pile of what corporations often consider burdensome regulations. That isn't what they usually expect from Democratic administrations, even ones led by Barack Obama.
Federal regulators and U.S. lawmakers are trying every trick in the book from Web sites to road shows to make sure Americans know that the digital television transition is coming soon — which could mean those without cable or satellite would only see black unless they buy a new television set or get a converter box.
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission today ordered the largest U.S. cable TV operator Comcast Corp to change how it manages its broadband network. The regulator concluded that some of Comcast’s tactics unreasonably restrict Internet users who share movies and other material.
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is likely to vote today to uphold a network complaint against Comcast Corp, the largest U.S. cable television operator, which was accused of violating open-Internet principles by blocking peer-to-peer traffic on its network.
******Federal regulators have cleared the last remaining hurdle for Sirius Satellite Radio’s proposed acquisition of XM Satellite Radio Holdings, a deal that will combine rivals in the nascent U.S. pay-radio market.******The U.S. Federal Communications Commission reached an agreement to conditionally approve the deal on Thursday, four months after the Department of Justice gave its blessing, and 18 months after XM and Sirius agreed to combine. Experts say that new services from a combined company could come in a few months, but suggest their holiday subscription growth may be hurt by the delayed deal closing.******Here are are some important dates in the history of the satellite radio industry.******* 1994 – CD Radio goes public at about $3.15.******* Oct. 1999 – XM goes public at $12 a share.************* Nov. 1999 – CD Radio changes its name to Sirius Satellite.******* Nov. 2001 – XM starts national radio service, after launching its first two satellites — “Rock” and “Roll” — earlier in the year.***
**** 2002 – Sirius launches national satellite radio service.******* Oct 2003 – XM reaches 1 million subscribers.******* Dec 2003 – Sirius signs 7-year, $220 million pact with the National Football League.******* Oct 2004 – Shock Jocks Opie and Anthony begin broadcasting on XM, on a premium channel.******* Oct 2004 – XM signs 11-year, $650 million pact with Major League Baseball; deal starts with the 2005 season.******* Oct 2004 – XM unveils Delphi MyFi, its first portable radio receiver.******* Dec 2004 – Sirius reached 1 million subscribers********** Oct 2004 – Sirius signs shock jock Howard Stern to 5-year, $500 million deal.******* April 2005 – XM raises subscription price to $12.95 a month from $9.99, matching Sirius.*******Sept 2005 – XM surpasses 5 million subscribers.******* Feb 2006 – XM signs 3-year, $55 million deal with Oprah Winfrey.******* Sept 2006 – Sirius tops 5 million subscribers.******* Jan 2006 – Sirius starts broadcasts of Howard Stern.******* Feb 2007 – Sirius and XM propose merger; Deal requires approval of their respective shareholders, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. Justice Department. Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin to be CEO of new company, XM Chairman Gary Parson to become Chairman.************* July 2007 – CEO Hugh Panero says he is stepping down in August; COO Nate Davis to become Interim CEO.******* Nov 2007 – XM and Sirius shareholders approve the deal.******* Mar 2008 – The Justice Department approves the deal.************* June 16, 2008 – FCC Chairman Kevin Martin announced his recommendation to approve the merger with conditions.******* June 30, 2008 – Sirius ends the second quarter with 8.9 million subscribers, up 25 percent from a year earlier. XM had 9.65 million subscribers at the end of June, up 17 percent from a year earlier.******* July 25, 2008 – FCC Commissioners approve the deal with conditions, clearing the way for a deal that will leave just one U.S. satellite radio service. Analysts expect the deal to close within days or weeks of the regulatory approval.******(Sources: XM, Sirius, Hoover’s, Reuters)******(Top picture: A Russian Proton with a satellite for Sirius Satellite Radio is lifted into place at its launching pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, on September 1, 2000, while (L to R) Bob Prevaux, Program Director for Space Systems Loral talks with Rob Briskman, Executive Vice President for Sirius Satellite Radio and Ted Sitek, Mission Manager for International Launch Services. (Reuters/Karl Ronstrom))
If it wasn’t sufficiently clear that Ford is paying for those Mustangs on TV, or who’s supplying all that Coca-Cola to the American Idol judges, the Federal Communications Commission may make everyone involved in this obfuscation ‘fess up.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the FCC is expected to launch a formal proceeding this week to consider rules for proper disclosure of what the industry calls product placement: the frequently annoying inclusion of brand names into scripts for TV shows, movies and, according to some, novels.
Some ideas under consideration include requiring TV shows to put up a notice similar to the ones used by political candidates in their campaign ads. The Journal says U.S. advertisers, who are already shelling out several billion dollars a year on these stealth ads, are opposed to the idea.
We can’t help but question whether such notices would effectively become a second plug for a product, at least in the minds of consumers. Or does the explicitness of it all reduce any potential “cool” factor of having your vacuum cleaner featured in a Saturday Night Live skit?
Who needs competition when you have a nice big merger to complete? After 13 months of Congressional haggling that would have put John McCain to shame, Sirius chief Mel Karmazin won U.S. Department of Justice approval for his $5 billion marriage with XM Satellite Radio.
Sure they’re the only two subscription radio operators, but with all those iTunes downloads and Web radio personalities, there’s no need to think anyone will suffer with Howard Stern and Oprah Winfrey in their exclusive hands.
Most expect the FCC will come through with the final green-light for XM and Sirius to close the deal, and then the real work on actually making money from satellite will begin.
We’re still a little stuck on the regulatory landscape that seems to err on the side of bigness, from Verizon and AT&T’s billion-dollar wireless spectrum wins, to a push from underdogs like Microsoft and Google to use the blank spaces of TV spectrum for mobile Internet and the ability to even contemplate a scenario in which Rupert Murdoch buys Newsday.
Let the games begin.