Capital Watch - Broadcasting & Cable

Capital Watch

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Broadband Power

Broadcasters are asking the FCC to prevent electric companies from offering broadband over power lines on frequencies used for TV. Tests in the U.S. and other countries have demonstrated that leakage from power lines will cause significant interference to VHF channels 2-5, particularly to digital-TV transmission, warned the NAB and the Association for Maximum Service Television. "The low VHF TV band is already heavily polluted with man-made impulse-type background interference, attributed in part to leaky power lines," NAB and MSTV wrote in comments at the FCC last week. "Power-line broadband service is likely to further increase" the noise floor and "may result in significant analog picture disruption and total degradation of DTV signals."

Victory Winging

Nancy Victory, director of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, will step down Aug. 15 after nearly two years in the post. Victory said she is leaving for personal reasons and has no immediate plans. Her exit comes as the Bush Administration moves forward with plans to merge NTIA with the Commerce Department's Technology Administration and the e-commerce duties of the International Trade Administration. Victory's accomplishments include improving coordination of spectrum allocation with the FCC.

Powell Aide Exiting

After fulfilling her promise to stick around until the FCC wrapped up its revamp of broadcast-ownership rules, Susan Eid plans to step down as media legal adviser to agency Chairman Michael Powell at the end of July. She will be replaced on an acting basis by Paul Gallant, head of the Media Bureau's ownership task force. Eid said helping shepherd the review was a "great" but exhausting experience. She has no job lined up and plans to take the summer off, with a possible vacation in Greece. Working for Powell, she said, has been the highlight of her career. Eid joined Powell's office in July 2000 after serving as cable company MediaOne's Washington lobbyist.

Iran Interruption

The Voice of America's new satellite-delivered TV news program to Iran, News & Views
(Capital Watch, July 14), has run into a Cuban blockade of sorts. According to the Board for International Broadcasting, which oversees the service, transmissions are being jammed from somewhere near Havana. BIB is urging the FCC and State Department to lodge formal protests against "the unwarranted and wrongful interference." The jamming began July 6, the day the broadcasts began in an expanding government effort to capitalize on pro-democracy protests in Iran.

CTPAA Returns to D.C.

The Cable Television Public Affairs Association's annual conference will be held in Washington for a fourth year in a row. Forum 2004 is scheduled for March 21-24 at the Fairmont Washington hotel.

'Fair' warning

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property, gave the FCC a gentle reminder last week of the committee's oversight of copyright issues and its interest in protecting fair use. Referring to the FCC's proposed rulemaking on the broadcast-flag technology to protect digital broadcasts from illegal copying, Smith said, "It is important that the transition to DTV and any implementation of rules requiring the use of the broadcast flag does not have an adverse affect on how consumers may legitimately use lawfully acquired entertainment products." Noting that there were some FCC staffers in the room—a Media Institute lunch—he added, "I appreciate their recognition of our jurisdiction in future actions."

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