|FCC Reports Continuing Decline in Telephone
5/25. The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Wireline
Competition Bureau's (WCB) Industry Analysis and Technology Division (IATD)
released its latest
report [50 pages in PDF] titled "Telephone Subscribership in the United
In March 2005 of the telephone penetration rate in the U.S. was
92.4%. It was 93.5% in November of 2004. This is a drop of over 1% in four
months. The penetration rate was 95.5% in March of 2003. The FCC's figure has
decreased in each of the last six reports. The report does not explain the cause
of this trend. Nor does the FCC staff have an understanding of the cause. See also, FCC
release [1 page in PDF]
The FCC issues this report three times per year. It provides
extension data on penetration levels for March, July and November of each year.
These reports contain detailed data on penetrations rates, including breakdowns
by income level, race, and state. This report does not, however, offer an explanation for
this steady decline over the past two years.
The report also lacks data that
might enable readers to develop their own hypotheses regarding the cause of the
decline. For example, there is no data in this report on fungible
services that consumers might substitute for telephones. There is no data in the
report on e-mail, instant messaging, broadband internet access, VOIP
applications, pagers, blackberries, or other wireless devices with internet
The FCC has been revising the wording of its survey question, in an effort to
make sure that it is not undercounting various types of phone service other than
traditional land line POTS service, such as cell phones and VOIP service. (See,
footnote 2 of the report.) However, despite the tinkering with the survey
questions, the downward trend continues.
One possible explanation would be that despite the changes in wording of the
question, some consumers still consider that their cell phone service is not
phone service. Although, the trend did not begin until two years ago, well after
the trend towards cell phone only consumers. A related explanation would be that
some VOIP users do not consider their service to be phone service, and answer
the FCC's question in the negative.
Another possible explanation would be an increase in the use of non phone
substitutes, such as instant messaging, blackberries, and e-mail. Yet another
explanation would be that consumers are responding that their home does not have
a phone even though they use devices and services provided by their employers
for voice and other communications.
|Adelstein Angles for More FCC Regulation of
5/25. Federal Communications Commission
(FCC) Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein gave a
to the Media Institute in Washington DC in which he made the case that the "increasing
commercialization of American media", including news media, warrants renewed enforcement
of existing FCC rules that regulate speech, as well as new rules.
Adelstein (at right)
decried what he described as "fake news". However, he made no reference
in the prepared text of his speech to items
that have literally been both "fake" and "news", such as recent news
reporting by Jack Kelley and Jayson Blair. See for example,
in USA Today titled "Ex-USA TODAY reporter faked major stories", March 19, 2004,
in CNN titled "New York Times: Ex-reporter faces fraud inquiry", May 13, 2003.
Rather, Adelstein began with the example of a celebrity TV gourmet who once said
of frozen shrimp, "Fresh is not as fresh as frozen". Indeed, this was the title
of the speech. Adelstein continued that there is "trend by TV chefs", and it
"will undercut public trust" in TV cooking commentary. The Commissioner steamed
about the current state of TV shrimp commentary.
But, the problem is deeper than fish and shellfish. Adelstein
said that TV "soap operas have woven cosmetic lines into their tales" and Coke is
displayed on the TV program American Idol.
Adelstein lamented a bygone era when viewers could obtain "real news
coverage" and "accurate information". There was once an "era of
integrity" in American television. He mentioned
Julia Child, who provided TV viewers with
accurate information about cooking shrimp?
source on the declining quality of TV cooking commentary is a Wall Street Journal
story titled "The Sponsored Chef", April 22, 2005.)
Adelstein is outraged and wants the FCC to do something about it.
He discussed regulation of the content of broadcast speech. He said that
"careful regulations to ensure that American broadcasters also serve the public interest
have been wiped off the books over the last couple of decades."
He wants the FCC to enforce existing regulations regarding
disclosure of "who is behind sponsored programming". Moreover, he argued that
"where disclosure itself is not adequate for the audience to form such an
understanding, stricter measures are needed." He cited one such example. "We
need to move forward with an outright ban on interactive advertising to children
He complained about fake news and the state of the media. However, whenever
he provided either specific or general examples, it was almost always in reference to
radio, television, and cable television. He offered little criticism of the state of
other media, including daily newspapers, periodical magazines, book publishing,
or internet publications.
He did not state the reason for this. Nor did he assert his descriptions
regarding the state of the media are limited to radio, TV and cable.
He complained about the "increasing commercialization of
American media". He said that there is "a bottomless pit of commercialism in
today’s media into which even icons we hold sacred are sinking and becoming sullied".
He identified that culprits as corporation, their "PR agents" and their
He identified the practices of "video news releases" and "product
"We see reports of video news releases masquerading as
independent, legitimate news; PR agents pushing political and commercial agendas
that squeeze out real news coverage and local community concerns; product
placements turning news and entertainment shows alike into undisclosed
commercials; and well-trained marketers preying on the unsuspecting minds of our
He added that no good "comes from marinating children's brains in advertising".
Adelstein also asserted that compelling "disclosure of the source or
sponsor of the information does not amount to government compelled speech, nor
does it infringe First Amendment rights of broadcasters."
He continued that "Undisclosed promotions are not just wrong -- they are payola,
and they are illegal. That applies to product placements, paid VNRs, or anything
for which payment is made but not disclosed. It is high time to employ some
lessons about the law so this does not continue happening."
He added that "We have a right to know that people who present themselves to be
independent, unbiased experts and reporters are not shills hired to promote a
corporate -- or governmental -- agenda."
Adelstein also condemned "media consolidation" at length in this speech, as
he has done many times in the past. But, he added that media consolidation was
not the topic of this speech.
|Senate IP Subcommittee Holds Hearing on
International IP Piracy
5/25. The Senate Judiciary
Committee's Intellectual Property Subcommittee held a hearing titled "Piracy of
Intellectual Property". The hearing focused on piracy of intellectual property in
other countries, and measures related to the protection of intellectual rights, including
the TRIPS agreement, Section 301 reviews and classifications by the Office of the
U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), and the Generalized
System of Preferences (GSP) program and other tariff preference programs.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the Chairman
of the Subcommittee, wrote in his
opening statement that "during the Cold War, it was said that the Soviet
Union’s style of negotiation could be summed up as follows: What’s mine is mine
... and what’s yours is negotiable. If Russia, China, or any other government
attempts to adopt this view with respect to their responsibilities to protect
intellectual property under international trade law and agreements, I can assure
you that public support for U.S. trade agreements will be undermined and there
will be strong resistance from -- and appropriate action taken by -- members of
Congress. To put a fine point on it, before the Congress votes in favor of
Russia joining the WTO, many of us will have to be convinced that the Russian
government is serious about cracking down on theft of U.S. intellectual
prepared testimony of Marybeth Peters (Register of Copyrights),
testimony of Stephen Pinkos (Deputy Director of the
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office),
testimony of James Mendenhall (acting General Counsel of the Office of the USTR),
testimony of Eric Smith (President of the International Intellectual Property Alliance),
testimony of Robert Holleyman (P/CEO of the Business
See also, stories titled "House Subcommittee Holds Hearings on IP Theft in
China and Russia" and "Bush Says New USTR Will Stop IPR Piracy in China" in TLJ
Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,138, May 18, 2005.
|Thursday, May 26
The House will meet at 10:00 AM for legislative business. See,
Republican Whip Notice.
The Senate will meet at 9:30 AM. It will resume its
consideration of the nomination of John Bolton to be ambassador to the
8:30 AM - 2:00 PM. The
Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) will
host a program titled "The Role of the State Attorney General: Differing
Perspectives". The speakers will include Pennsylvania AG Tom Corbett, Georgia
AG Thurbert Baker, and Indiana AG Steve Carter RSVP to Brent Tjarks at 202 463-3187 or
btjarks at uschamber dot com. Location: U.S. Chamber
of Commerce, 1615 H Street, NW.
9:30 AM. The
House Judiciary Committee's (HJC)
Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security will hold another in its long
series of oversight hearings on the USA Patriot Act (PA). This hearing is titled
"Implementation of the USA PATRIOT Act: Sections 505 and 804". Section
505 of the PA pertains to national security letters. Section 804 of the PA pertains
to jurisdiction over crimes committed at U.S. facilities abroad, and material witness
provisions of the Criminal Code. The witnesses will be Chuck
Rosenberg (Chief of Staff to the Deputy Attorney General), Matthew Berry
(Counselor to the Assistant Attorney General), Greg Nojeim (American Civil Liberties Union),
and Shayana Kadidal (Center for Constitutional
notice [PDF]. The hearing will be webcast by the HJC. Press contact: Jeff Lungren or
Terry Shawn at 202 225-2492. Location: Room 2141, Rayburn Building.
9:30 AM. The Senate
Judiciary Committee has scheduled an executive business meeting. See,
notice. The SJC
frequently cancels meetings without notice. The SJC rarely follows its agenda. Press
contact: Blain Rethmeier (Specter) at 202 224-5225, David Carle (Leahy) at 202 224-4242
or Tracy Schmaler (Leahy) at 202 224-2154. Location: Room 226, Dirksen Building.
11:30 AM. The House Commerce
Committee's (HCC) Subcommittee on on Telecommunications and the Internet will hold a hearing
on its discussion draft of HR __, the "DTV Transition Act of 2005". This
hearing will be webcast by the HCC. See,
notice. Press contact: Larry Neal at 202 225-5735. Location: Room 2322,
2:00 PM. The Senate Appropriations
Committee's Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State, and the Judiciary will hold a
hearing on the proposed budget for FY 2006 for the
Department of Commerce. Secretary of Commerce
will testify. See,
notice. Location: Room S-146, Capitol Building.
2:30 PM. The Senate Homeland Security and
Governmental Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management,
Government Information, and International Security will hold a hearing titled "An
Assessment of Federal Funding for Private Research and Development". The witnesses
will be Robin Nazzaro (Government Accountability Office),
Brian Reidl (Heritage Foundation), and Charles Wessner (The National Academies). See,
notice. Location: Room 562, Dirksen Building.
9:30 AM. The Senate
Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security
and Citizenship has scheduled a hearing titled "The Need for Comprehensive
Immigration Reform: Serving Our National Economy". See,
notice. The SJC
frequently cancels meetings without notice. Sen. Jon Cornyn (R-TX) will
preside. Location: Room 226, Dirksen Building.
|Friday, May 27
The House may meet at 10:00 AM for legislative
business. It would continue its consideration of
HR 1815, the
"National Defense Authorization Act FY 2006". See,
Republican Whip Notice.
EXTENDED TO JUNE 27.
Deadline to submit comments to the Bureau
of Industry and Security (BIS) in response to its
notice in the Federal Register pertaining to deemed exports. The BIS seeks comments
report [64 pages in PDF] written by the Department of Commerce's (DOC)
Office of Inspector General (OIG) titled
"Deemed Export Controls May Not Stop the Transfer of Sensitive Technology to
Foreign Nationals in the U.S.". See, Federal Register, March 28, 2005, Vol.
70, No. 58, at Pages 15607 - 15609.
Deadline to submit comments to the Copyright
Office in response to its notice of
proposed rulemaking (NPRM) regarding requiring eligible digital audio services availing
themselves of the statutory licenses set forth in 17 U.S.C. §§
114 to report their usage of sound recordings. See,
the Federal Register, April 27, 2005, Vol. 70, No. 80, at Pages 21704-21711.
|Wednesday, June 1
Day one of a two day conference titled "Broadband Policy Summit
2005: A New Leadership Blueprint" hosted by Pike & Fischer. See,
Willard InterContinental Hotel.
Deadline to submit comments to the National
Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) regarding two modes of operation --
Galois Counter Mode (GCM) or the Carter-Wegman + Counter (CWC) -- for use with the Advanced
Encryption Standard (AES). See, NIST web page regarding
|Thursday, June 2
10:00 AM - 11:30 AM. The
Federal Communications Commission's (FCC)
Media Security and Reliability Council (MSRC)
will meet. See,
notice [PDF]. Location: Commission Meeting Room, FCC, 445 12th Street, SW.
12:15 - 2:30 PM. The DC
Bar Association will host a panel discussion titled "The Nuts And Bolts Of
Transfers Of Control At The FCC". The speakers will be Jim Bird (FCC Office of
General Counsel), William Dever (FCC Wireline Competition Bureau), Susan O'Connell (FCC
International Bureau), Nina Shafran (FCC Media Bureau), and Jeff Tobias (FCC Wireless
Telecommunications Bureau). The price to attend ranges from $10-$20. For more information,
contact 202-626-3463. See,
Location: D.C. Bar Conference Center, 1250 H Street NW, B-1 Level.
Day one of a two day conference titled "Broadband
Policy Summit 2005: A New Leadership Blueprint" hosted by Pike & Fischer.
See, notice. Location:
Willard InterContinental Hotel.
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