QuoteFour major broadcast companies would pay the government $12.5 million and provide 8,400 half-hour segments of free airtime for independent record labels and local artists, The Associated Press has learned. The agreement is aimed at curbing payola - generally defined as radio stations accepting cash or other consideration from record companies in exchange for airplay. The practice has been around as long as the radio industry and was made illegal after scandals in the late 1950s. Two Federal Communications Commission officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because final language has not been approved by the full commission, said the monetary settlement is part of a consent decree between the FCC and Clear Channel Communications Inc., CBS Radio, Entercom Communications Corp. and Citadel Broadcasting Corp.
QuoteBut cable operators, telecommunications watchdog groups and some members of Congress think the FCC is using flawed data that could lead to it overstepping its authority. The FCC plans to release a report on Wednesday that looks at the average rates for cable TV service over the past 10 years. In his recent speech, Martin said that from 1995 to 2005, cable rates have risen 93 percent, from $22.37 in 1995 to $43.04 in 2005. He used this data point as an argument for changing the local franchise rules to add more competition to the market.
QuoteIn 1998, the FCC directed the cable industry to develop a physical device--now called a CableCard--containing the security functions that could be inserted into the equipment of independent manufacturers. That made sure their boxes could be used with cable systems around the country. The FCC thought this separate security device would allow multichannel video program distributors to retain control over the security function while enabling independent entities separately to market navigation devices. The cable industry has so far supplied about 200,000 CableCards for use in more than 140 models of digital cable-ready devices. But the vast majority of cable subscribers continue to use equipment leased from their cable companies.
QuoteWould there be an impact on consumers' monthly bills?
Copps: Absolutely--there could be an impact. I think you're much better off, again, if you're a VoIP or wireless provider, there's a possibility now that your bills are going to go up because we haven't included the broadband. When everyone participates in the (system) it's more equitable and fair and you don't feel the pain as much. It could well be consumers are going to feel more pain, and that's something we always have to be sensitive and alive to. Consumers, too often, don't get the priority concern that they ought to get.
QuoteCongress is mandating the use of DRM, plain and simple. Although one part of the bill seems to give a nod to fair use, it's done in the same way as it was under the DMCA. Meaning, the bill ignores fair use. It reads that the FCC's regulation won't affect fair use rights-well, it won’t. Those fair use limitations still exist under the copyright law-but as we know well, DRM legally trumps fair use thanks to the DMCA.