FCC to Vote on Television Set-Up Boxes

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LEDE The Federal Communications Commission is about to vote on its reforms to the market for television set-top boxes after months of interest group lobbying and congressional cajoling.

The five commissioners are scheduled to vote Thursday on the item, with key questions still outstanding.

Under the rules pay television providers would be required to create applications through which customers could watch live programming. Chairman Tom Wheeler has proposed that the commission have oversight of the licenses between the providers and device manufacturers.

That hasn’t gone over well with the industry, which has pushed back forcefully. Their congressional allies have done the same. Most significantly, Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel has said that she doesn’t believe the agency has the authority to pursue the proposal as written. That puts Wheeler under pressure to change the proposal in a way that can win her crucial vote, or that of other skeptics on the commission.

Some Democrats made a last-minute plea Tuesday for the FCC to back the reforms.

ALERTS ARE ON THE AGENDA, TOO: The commission will also consider an agenda item meant to update the Wireless Emergency Alerts system.

Last week, an FCC official said that the item was slated to expand the length of the alerts from 90 to 360 characters and allow them to add links to AMBER alerts for missing children, among other changes.

But the bombing in New York City two weekends ago changed the dynamic in the weeks before the vote.

New York officials, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, have written to Wheeler asking him to quickly approve changes so that officials can send add multimedia and links to the emergency alerts. It remains to be seen if they’ll be able to advance that proposal. But CTIA, the wireless trade group, did recently submit a filing pushing back on the addition of links to all alert types.

STILL AHEAD FOR THE COMMISSION: This probably won’t be the last contentious meeting we have at the FCC this year. Wheeler’s broadband privacy proposal is still on the docket — and faces significant industry opposition. Also outstanding are his reforms to the market for so-called special access contracts, internet deals for businesses with special data needs. Here’s the agenda for Thursday’s meeting.
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At 8:30 a.m. Ted Dean from the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration will speak at a Microsoft event on internet fragmentation.

At 10:30 a.m. the FCC will hold its September open meeting.


According to a New York Times report, after a hack six years ago, Yahoo did not prioritize security measures in the way its competitors did, leaving it open to vulnerabilities.

Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.) want the FCC to approve new set-top box rules.

The European Union is considering controversial cybersecurity export rules, however the U.S. is trying to renegotiate the terms of the updates.

The House’s vote on holding the former State Department staffer responsible for setting up Hillary Clinton’s private email server in contempt of Congress will wait until after the elections.

The FBI found no evidence that either Hillary Clinton or her aides ordered an IT technician to delete an email archive that was under congressional subpoena, Director James Comey testified Wednesday.

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