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February 3, 2006, Alert No. 1,303.
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US and Korea to Negotiate Free Trade Agreement

2/2. U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Portman announced that the U.S. intends to "negotiate a free trade agreement (FTA) with Republic of Korea with the goal of removing tariffs and non-tariff barriers and expanding trade between the countries". See, USTR release.

Portman stated that "This is the most commercially significant free trade negotiation we have embarked on in 15 years ... Korea is the world's 10th largest economy with an annual GDP rapidly approaching $1 trillion and our 7th largest export market."

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee (SFC), stated in a release that "In recent months Korea has taken concrete steps that demonstrate the seriousness with which it will approach these negotiations. Korea has addressed several of our bilateral trade concerns, including the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights" and "restrictions on movie screenings". However, he added that "we have a number of significant market access issues that remain".

Some of these issues are related to agricultural products and cars. Korea maintains high tariffs on, as well as non-tariff barriers to, these products. See also, Korean government release and release.

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), the ranking Democrat on the SFC, stated in a release that "For too long, the United States has pursued politically-motivated trade agreements with very small countries of little economic significance that create few jobs at home. I applaud Ambassador Portman for re-energizing U.S. trade policy and focusing on markets like Korea that really matter to U.S. exporters."

President Bush stated in a release that "The United States and the Republic of Korea have a strong alliance and are bound together by common values and a deep desire to expand freedom, peace, and prosperity throughout Asia and the world. Today, we seek to deepen the ties between our nations by negotiating a comprehensive U.S.-Republic of Korea Free Trade Agreement. A Free Trade Agreement with the Republic of Korea will provide important economic, political, and strategic benefits to both countries and build on America's engagement in Asia. The Republic of Korea is our seventh largest trading partner and seventh largest export market, and this Free Trade Agreement advances our commitment to opening markets and expanding opportunities for America's farmers, ranchers, workers, and businesses."

See also, story titled "Korea Relaxes Trade Barriers to Foreign Movies" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,298, January 27, 2006.

Congress Enacts DTV Transition Legislation

2/1. On February 1, the House approved HRes 653 by a vote of 216-214. See, Roll Call No. 4. HRes 653 is a short resolution that provides as follows: "Resolved, That the House hereby concurs in the Senate amendment to the House amendment to the bill (S. 1932) to provide for reconciliation pursuant to section 202(a) of the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2006 (H. Con. Res. 95)."

That is, it provides for approval of S 1932, the "Deficit Reduction Act of 2005", which was previously approved by the Senate. Title III of this bill is the "Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005". Thus, the Congress has enacted a digital television (DTV) transition bill.

President Bush has not yet signed the bill.

Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), the Chairman of the House Commerce Committee, stated in a release that "The DTV legislation brings needed certainty to allow consumers, broadcasters, cable and satellite operators, manufacturers, retailers, and government to prepare for the end of the transition ... It includes a strong consumer education measure. And it helps ensure that all consumers have continued access to broadcast programming, regardless of whether they use analog or digital televisions, or whether they watch television signals broadcast by a local station or subscribe to pay-TV."

"We now have three years to prepare for the transition ... That is more than enough time for manufacturers and retailers to move low-cost digital televisions and converter-boxes into the market, for the FCC to complete the channel allocation process, for broadcasters to finalize their digital facilities, and for government and industry to prepare consumers for the transition."

This bill contains a date of February 17, 2009 for television broadcasters to relinquish spectrum in the 700 MHz band that they are currently using for analog over the air broadcasting. After that date broadcasters will only broadcast using spectrum for digital over the air broadcasting.

108 MHz of spectrum will be recovered from analog broadcasting. 24 MHz is allocated for public safety uses. 84 MHz is allocated for advanced wireless services. 60 MHz of this has yet to be auctioned. The bill requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to commence its auction by January 28, 2006.

The FCC has adopted rules requiring that new television sets be manufactured with digital receivers. However, there remain television sets in use, with only analog reception capability, that are used for analog over the air television.

The bill establishes a government subsidy program, to be funded out of auction proceeds, that will pay for converter boxes for consumers with analog TV sets. That is, the bill provides for up to $1.5 Billion in funding of $40 vouchers for the purchase of digital to analog set top converter boxes. There is a limit of two vouchers per household. The bill provides that this subsidy program will be administered by the Department of Commerce's (DOC) National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

The High Tech DTV Coalition is a Washington DC based interest group that has sought enactment of this legislation. It members include equipment manufacturers, software makers, telecommunications carriers, service providers, and groups involved in putting the recovered spectrum to use for advanced wireless services. Among the members are Alcatel, Aloha Partners, AT&T, Dell, Cisco, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, T-Mobile, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), Business Software Alliance (BSA), Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), Rural Telecommunications Group, TechNet, and Organization for the Promotion and Advancement of Small Telecommunications Companies (OPASTCO).

Janice Obuchowski, head of the High Tech DTV Coalition, spoke at a luncheon on January 24, 2006. She stated there that the 700 MHz band has properties, such as permeation of walls, that make it ideally suited for mobile broadband services.

She also downplayed the likelihood that consumers might react negatively to the termination of analog over the air broadcasting. She said that over the air broadcasting will continue, digitally. She added that with recent FCC rules regarding the manufacturer of new televisions, the prevalence of cable, the converter box subsidies, and consumer education, few people will be adversely affected.

She also said that "this country is built around technology shifts".

People and Appointments

2/2. House Republicans elected Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) to be House Majority Leader. He replaces Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX). He defeated Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO), who remains Republican Whip, and Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ).

2/2. Diego Ruiz was named Deputy Chief of the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis. He was previously VP and General Manager of KUVS-TV Univision Channel 19 and KTFK-TV TeleFutura Channel 64 in Sacramento, California. Before that, he was VP and General Manager of Univision's internet division, Univision Online. See, FCC release.

2/3. Justin McCarthy was named head of the congressional affairs team at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). He has worked at the USTR for a few months as Assistant USTR for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Liaison. Before that he worked for Pfizer. Before joining Pfizer in 2001, he was Legislative Director for Mayer Brown & Platt's international trade practice. And before that, he worked for former Rep. Thomas Ewing (R-IL).

More News

2/2. The Business Software Alliance (BSA) released a document titled "2006 U.S. Public Policy Priorities". See also, BSA release.

1/31. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) announced that it has filed yet another round of civil complaints, on behalf of its member companies, in U.S. District Courts, against 750 individuals, alleging copyright infringement, in connection with their alleged distribution of copyrighted music on the internet via peer to peer services, including LimeWire and Kazaa. See, RIAA release.

1/31. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Chris Cox gave a speech in which he addressed, among other topics, interactive data. He said that "the SECís commitment to foster interactive data is aimed squarely at helping the directors of public companies and the shareholders they represent to exercise stronger oversight of their company's financial performance. Interactive data will make it easier for directors and shareholders to analyze the numbers in financial statements." He added that "Interactive data will make the world of investment more democratic, and it will complement our collective efforts to constantly improve corporate governance."

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Washington Tech Calendar
New items are highlighted in red.
Friday, February 3

The House will not meet. It will next meet on February 7 at 2:00 PM.

The Senate will not meet. It will next meet on Monday, February 6 at 2:00 PM.

9:30 AM. The U.S. Court of Appeals (DCCir) will hear oral argument in Mobile Relay Association v. FCC, No. 04-1413. Judges Sentelle, Henderson and Tatel will preside. This is a case regarding the FCC reorganization of the 800 MHz band. See, FCC brief [PDF]. Location: Prettyman Courthouse, 333 Constitution Ave., NW.

Sunday, February 5

Super Bowl Sunday.

Monday, February 6

The House will not meet.

The Senate will meet 2:00 PM. It will begin consideration of S 852, the asbestos claims bill.

9:30 AM. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing titled "Wartime Executive Power and the NSAís Surveillance Authority". The witnesses will include Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Press contact: Blain Rethmeier (Specter) at 202 224-5225. Location: Room 216, Hart Building.

2:00 PM. The Public Knowledge will hold an event titled "press briefing" regarding "net neutrality". For more information, contact Art Brodsky at 202 518-0020 ext 103.

Deadline for telecommunications carriers to file with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) certifications demonstrating compliance with the FCC's rule regarding protecting the privacy of customer proprietary network information (CPNI). This is Docket No. 06-36. See, FCC notice [PDF] and notice [PDF].

Tuesday, February 7

9:30 AM. The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing titled "The Presidentís Fiscal Year 2007 Budget Proposal". Secretary of the Treasury John Snow will testify. Location: Room 215, Dirksen Building.

9:30 AM. The U.S. Court of Appeals (DCCir) will hear oral argument in Paradise Cable v. FCC, No. 05-1040. Judges Ginsburg, Henderson and Randolph will preside. Location: Prettyman Courthouse, 333 Constitution Ave., NW.

10:00 AM. The Senate Commerce Committee (SCC) will hold a hearing titled "Net Neutrality". The witnesses will be Vinton Cerf (Google), Kyle McSlarrow (National Cable and Telecommunications Association), Walter McCormick (U.S. Telecom Association), Jeffrey Citron (Vonage), Kyle Dixon (Progress & Freedom Foundation), Lawrence Lessig (Stanford Law School), Gregory Sidak (Georgetown University Law Center), Gary Bachula (Internet2). See, notice. Press contact: Melanie Alvord (Stevens) at 202 224-8456, Aaron Saunders (Stevens) at 202 224-3991, or Andy Davis (Inouye) at 202 224-4546. The hearing will be webcast by the SCC. Location: Room 562, Dirksen Building.

10:00 AM. The U.S. Court of Appeals (FedCir) will hear oral argument in Arendi USA v. Microsoft, an appeal from the U.S. District Court (DRI) in patent infringement case involving smart tags in Microsoft's Office XP. This is App. Ct. No. 05-1170. Location: Courtroom 402, 717 Madison Place, :NW.

1:00 PM. The House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing titled "President's Fiscal Year 2007 Budget with U.S. Department of the Treasury Secretary John Snow". See, notice. Location: Room 1100, Longworth Building.

2:30 PM. The Senate Commerce Committee (SCC) will hold a hearing on several pending nominations, including that of Robert Cresanti to be Under Secretary for Technology Administration at the Department of Commerce. Press contact: Melanie Alvord (Stevens) at 202 224-8456, Aaron Saunders (Stevens) at 202 224-3991, or Andy Davis (Inouye) at 202 224-4546. The hearing will be webcast by the SCC. Location: Room 562, Dirksen Building.

5:00 PM. Deadline to submit applications to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) for Public Telecommunications Facilities Program (PTFP) grants for fiscal year 2006. See, NTIA notice and notice in the Federal Register, December 13, 2005, Vol. 70, No. 238, at Pages 73737 - 73738.

Wednesday, February 8

8:15 AM - 4:30 PM. The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) will host an event titled "2006 Internet Caucus State of the Net Conference". See, notice. For more information, contact Danielle Yates at dyates at netcaucus dot org or 202 638-4370. Location: Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill, 400 New Jersey Ave., NW.

10:00 AM. The U.S. Court of Appeals (FedCir) will hear oral argument in All Computers, Inc. v. Intel, an appeal from the U.S. District Court (EDVa). This is App. Ct. No. 05-1271. Location: Courtroom 402, 717 Madison Place, NW.

10:00 - 11:30 AM. The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) will host a panel discussion titled "The Tenth Anniversary of the Telecommunications Act of 1996: A Tough Act to Follow?". The speakers will be Kevin Martin (FCC Chairman), former Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-SC), former Sen. Larry Pressler (R-SD), former Rep. Tom Bliley (R-VA), and Harold Furchtgott-Roth (former FCC Commissioner). See, notice. Location: 12th, 1150 17th St., NW.

10:30 AM. The Senate Budget Committee will hold a hearing titled "President's Fiscal Year 2007 Budget Proposal". Secretary of the Treasury John Snow will testify. Location: Room 608, Dirksen Building.

12:00 NOON - 1:30 PM. The DC Bar Association will host a panel discussion titled "State Sales Tax and Congress: An Update on the SST and Corresponding Federal Legislation". The topics will include the 1992 opinion of the Supreme Court in Quill v. North Dakota, which is reported at 504 U.S. 298, and Senate bills S 2152, the "Sales Tax Fairness and Simplification Act", and S 2153, the "Streamlined Sales Tax Simplification Act ". The speakers will include Neal Osten (National Conference of State Legislatures), Maureen Riehl (National Retail Federation), and Leonard Bickwit (Miller & Chevalier). The price to attend ranges from $15-$27. For more information, call 202 626-3463. See, notice. Location: D.C. Bar Conference Center, 1250 H Street NW, B-1 Level.

2:00 - 4:00 PM. The Department of State's International Telecommunication Advisory Committee (ITAC) will hold the fifth in a series of weekly meetings to prepare for the International Telecommunications Union's (ITU) 2006 ITU Plenipotentiary Conference, to be held November 6-24, 2006, in Antalya, Turkey. See, notice in the Federal Register, December 21, 2005, Vol. 70, No. 244, at Page 75854. This notice incorrectly states that these meetings will be held on Tuesdays; they are on Wednesdays. For more information, contact Julian Minard at 202 647-2593 or minardje at state dot gov. Location: AT&T, 1120 20th St., NW.

2:30 PM. The Senate Commerce Committee (SCC) will hold a hearing on protecting consumer phone records. The witnesses will be Kris Montieth (Chief of Enforcement Bureau, Federal Communications Commission), Lydia Parnes (Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, Federal Trade Commission), Steve Largent (Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association), Marc Rotenberg (Electronic Privacy Information Center), Robert Douglas (PrivacyToday.com), and Cindy Southworth (National Network to End Domestic Violence). Sen. George Allen (R-VA) will preside. See, notice. Press contact: Melanie Alvord (Stevens) at 202 224-8456, Aaron Saunders (Stevens) at 202 224-3991, or Andy Davis (Inouye) at 202 224-4546. The hearing will be webcast by the SCC. Location: Room 562, Dirksen Building.

3:30 PM. The House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing titled "President's Fiscal Year 2007 Budget". The witness will be OMB Director Joshua Bolten. See, notice. Location: Room 1100, Longworth Building.

5:00 - 7:00 PM. The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) will host its "Ninth Annual Reception and Technology Fair". See, notice. Location: __.

6:00 - 8:15 PM. The Federal Communications Bar Association (FCBA) will host a continuing legal education (CLE) seminar titled "The New Telecom Bills -- The Return of the Tax Certificate? & The Future of FCC Designated Entity (DE) Credits". The speakers will be Carolyn Williams (Director of the FCC's Office of Communications Business Opportunities), Dirck Hargraves (Issue Dynamics), David Honig (Minority Media and Telecommunications Council), Jeneba Ghatt (The Ghatt Law Group), Jenell Trigg (Leventhal Senter & Lerman), and Andrew Barrett (The Barrett Group). See, notice [MS Word] and registration form [MS Word]. The price to attend ranges from $50-$175. Location: Hogan & Hartson.

Deadline to submit to the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) petitions to participate in three proceedings to determine reasonable rates and terms of royalty payments. See, notice in the Federal Register (January 9, 2006, Vol. 71, No. 5, at Pages 1453 - 1454) regarding the commencement of a proceeding to determine the reasonable rates and terms for use of certain works in connection with noncommercial broadcasting; notice (January 9, 2006, Vol. 71, No. 5, at Pages 1454 - 1455) in the Federal Register regarding the commencement of a proceeding to determine the reasonable rates and terms for making and distributing phonorecords; and, notice (January 9, 2006, Vol. 71, No. 5, at Page 1455) in the Federal Register regarding the commencement of a proceeding to determine the reasonable rates and terms for preexisting subscription and satellite digital audio radio services. See also, story titled "Copyright Royalty Board Commences Proceedings" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,285, January 9, 2006.

Deadline for the parties in U.S. v. Microsoft, D.C. No. 98-1232 (CKK), to file their next Joint Status Report with the U.S. District Court.

Thursday, February 9

9:00 AM - 5:30 PM. The Anti-Spyware Coalition (ASC) will host a one day conference titled "Anti-Spyware Coalition Public Workshop: Defining the Problem, Developing Solutions". The speakers will include FTC Chairman Deborah Majoras, Walt Mossberg (Wall Street Journal Columnist), and Susannah Fox (Pew Internet and American Life). See, agenda. For more information, contact Ari Schwartz of the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) at 202 637-9800. The price to attend is $200 (for registrations before December 3), $250 (after December 3). The ASC states that "The event is free for press. Contact David McGuire, (202) 637-9800 x106 to obtain credentials." Location: Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill, 400 New Jersey Ave., NW.

10:00 AM. The Senate Commerce Committee (SCC) will hold a hearing titled "Transportation Security Administration's Aviation Passenger Pre-Screening Programs -- Secure Flight and Registered Traveler". The witnesses will be Kip Hawley (Assistant Secretary, Transportation Security Administration), Cathleen Berrick (GAO), James May (Air Transport Association of America), Charles Barclay (American Association of Airport Executives), Tim Sparapani (ACLU), and Bill Connors (National Business Travel Association). The hearing will be webcast by the SCC. Press contact: Melanie Alvord (Stevens) at 202 224-8456, Aaron Saunders (Stevens) at 202 224-3991, or Andy Davis (Inouye) at 202 224-4546. See notice. Location: Room 562, Dirksen Building.

10:00 AM. The U.S. Court of Appeals (FedCir) will hear oral argument in Fiber Optic Design v. Season Special, App. Ct. No. 05-1488. Location: Courtroom 201, 717 Madison Place, NW.

12:00 NOON - 2:00 PM. The DC Bar Association will host a panel discussion titled "E-Mail and the Securities Regulators: The View From All Sides". The speakers will include Donald Dowie (SEC's Division of Enforcement), Kevin Carroll (NASD's Enforcement Department), Ann Griffith (Friedman Billings Ramsey Group), Jay Perlman (O'Melveny & Myers), Daniel Regard (LECG), Julian Ackert (LECG), and Ivan Knauer (Bingham McCutchen). The price to attend ranges from $5-$10. For more information, call 202 626-4363. See, notice. Location: D.C. Bar Conference Center, 1250 H Street NW, B-1 Level.

Friday, February 10

9:30 AM. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will hold a meeting. The event will be webcast by the FCC. Location: FCC, 445 12th Street, SW, Room TW-C05 (Commission Meeting Room).

10:00 AM. The U.S. Court of Appeals (FedCir) will hear oral argument in FMStar Semiconductor v. International Trade Commission, App. Ct. No. 05-1129. Location: Courtroom 201, 717 Madison Place, NW.

8:30 - 11:45 AM. The Alliance for Public Technology (APT) will host an event titled "Tuning In to the New Age of Video: Ensuring the Benefits of Advanced Technology for All Americans". The speakers will include Johanna Shelton (House Commerce Committee), Eloise Gore (FCC Media Bureau), Link Hoewing (Verizon), and Larry Goldberg (WGBH National Center for Accessible Media). See, notice. Location: National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor.

11:45 AM - 1:45 PM. The Alliance for Public Technology (APT) will host a luncheon titled "Susan G. Hadden Pioneer Awards Luncheon". See, notice.