Vicarious Reporter's Notebook


I was covering the privacy hearing in the House Communications Subcommittee today, so I could not also be at the Herring hearing over at the FCC, where WealthTV parent Herring Broadcasting is arguing its complaint that cable operators, including Comcast, discriminated against it.

That hearing follows one last week on a carriage discrimination complaint by the NFL Network, also against Comcast, and precedes one May 19–moved from May 6.

Anyway, I am told by two people in the courtroom this morning that Judge Richard Sippel’s initial comment was that his son had called him to say he had gotten a letter from the NFL to the effect that he could be losing his NFL Network soon. The judge told Comcast lawyers they should look into whether the NFL was telling Comcast customers that and make it part of the record.

The letter shouldn’t come as a big surprise. Both Comcast and the NFL network have been letting folks know that the channel could be dropped after April 30 if they cannot come to terms on a new contract, which at this point seems unlikely. No negotiations to speak of, said a Comcast source.

And in the irony department, I was actually covering the Hill hearing remotely online, which seemed appropriate for a hearing on the Internet. When I went to the Web site of the committee to start streaming, I found that it was only an audio stream rather than a video Webcast. The former is doable, though it is always easier to be able to put names to faces in the real time of trying to put names to quotes and comments.

I called the committee’s majority staffer to ask ‘why no video?’ and was told that they were Webcasting a live video stream of a hearing on The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, and that they couldn’t handle two video streams at the same time.

“We’ve been told by the recording studio that our Web site can only handle one Webcast at a time,” said the staffer. “We can to Web and audio at the same time, but if they are going simultaneously we can’t do two video webcasts.”

I asked if that were a question of production by the Web team or or of the site being able to handle the traffic. The answer was “I think it is a little of both. The recording studio kind of let’s us know what we can and can’t do, and they say we can’t do two video webcasts at the same tme.”