|McDowell Disqualifies Himself in AT&T
BellSouth Merger Proceeding
12/18. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner
Robert McDowell released a
statement [40 pages in PDF] regarding the FCC's review of the merger of AT&T and
BellSouth in which he announced that "I disqualify myself from this matter".
He explained at length the method by which he reached this decision.
McDowell (at left) stated
that "I have also tried hard to encourage some of my colleagues on the Commission to
negotiate in good faith – sadly, to no avail."
"Sadly, I fear that my recusal from this matter has been used as a pawn by
some to forgo meaningful and sincere negotiations," said McDowell.
This leaves the Commission with four Commissioners participating in the
proceeding. Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein want to impose substantial
conditions upon approval, such as a broad network neutrality mandate. Kevin Martin and
Deborah Tate oppose such action by the FCC. The Department of Justice, which has antitrust
merger review authority, approved the merger long ago without any conditions.
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin stated
release [PDF] that "I appreciate Commissioner McDowell's thoughtful consideration
and respect his decision to abstain. My goal in recent weeks has been to ensure that the
Commission acted on the transaction. The Commission is not obligated to reach a particular
outcome. However, the Commission is responsible for making a determination in a timely
fashion. With Commissioner McDowell having made his decision, I will continue to try to
work with my colleagues to bring our consideration of this merger to conclusion."
FCC Commissioner Michael Copps
stated in a
release [PDF] that "Finally we have clarity on who will be participating in this
proceeding. That should give some juice to our ongoing discussions." He did not
provide a definition for this usage of the word "juice".
Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) stated in a release
that "I applaud Commissioner McDowell for adhering to high ethical standards in this
matter. In disqualifying himself, Commissioner McDowell has shown that he is a true public
servant and a man of principle."
Rep. Dingell, who is set to become Chairman of
the House Commerce Committee in the 110th
Congress, continued that "With the closing of this ungainly sideshow, the Commission
can get on with the proper performance of its duties. Now more than ever, the four
remaining commissioners have a responsibility to analyze the transaction carefully, fairly
and openly, and in a way that avoids imposing burdens that have nothing to do with the
transaction. The continued recusal of Commissioner McDowell should not be viewed as an
opportunity for individual commissioners to extract carte blanche from the merging
He concluded that "It is in the interest of the public and, in particular, the
companies' workers that this matter is brought to a fair and timely resolution."
Gigi Sohn, head of the Public
Knowledge, stated in a release that "It is now up to Chairman Martin to
negotiate a balanced set of terms and conditions with Commissioners Copps and
Adelstein that will protect the public interest and the freedom of the Internet."
This FCC proceeding is WC Docket No. 06-74.
|Antitrust Division Amends 2001 Merger
Review Process Initiative
12/15. The Department of Justice's (DOJ) Antitrust
Division issued its amended Merger
Review Process Initiative (MRPI). This revises the 2001 MRPI.
The DOJ also issued an amended
model request for addition
information and documentary material.
Thomas Barnett, the Assistant
Attorney General in charge of the Antitrust Division, stated in a
that "The amendments to the Division's already successful Merger Review Process
Initiative are part of our ongoing efforts to reduce enforcement burdens, while
at the same time preserve our ability to conduct thorough investigations and
protect consumers from anticompetitive transactions."
The DOJ release continues that "The amendments announced today include a
voluntary option that will enable companies to reduce significantly the duration
and cost of merger investigations. The new option would limit the document
search required by a Division information request, known as a "second request,"
to certain central files and a targeted list of 30 employees whose files must be
searched for responsive documents. This option will be made available to parties
to most transactions that are reviewed by the Division, and will be conditioned
on certain timing and procedural agreements that, among other things, protect
the Division's ability to obtain appropriate discovery should it decide to
challenge the deal in federal district court."
|DOT Seeks Applications for Funding of IT
Based Traffic Management Programs
12/18. The Department of Transportation (DOT) published a
notice in the Federal Register regarding its
Intelligent Transportation Systems' (ITS)
Operational Testing to Mitigate Congestion (OTMC) program. The DOT may give up to $100
Million over three years as a part of this ITS-OTMC program to subsidize metropolitan
entities to develop technology based strategies to reduce traffic congestion.
The notice states that the DOT will consider subsidizing the following types of
programs: "demand management pricing strategies, advanced traffic signal control,
innovative incident detection and management strategies, integrated corridor management,
parking management tied to transit service, high occupancy/toll (HOT) lanes, managed lanes,
ramp control, lane-keeping devices or longitudinal control designed to enhance spatial
efficiency on existing highways, precision docking, signal priority systems for buses,
contactless fare collection, real-time travel information (bus arrival times, schedules,
emergency information to first-responders, etc.), advanced traveler information systems,
parking alerts or automatic vehicle locator systems." (Parentheses in original.
The notice elaborates on congestion based pricing strategies. It states that
congestion pricing does not involve charges a fixed fee for road use, but rather
involves "charging drivers a user fee that varies by traffic volumes or time of day,
thus balancing supply and demand", and by collecting fees "electronically at
highway speeds". The notice states that this will help highway managers "to
maximize throughput and the free flow of traffic".
The DOT notice continues that "Technology facilitates this variability by enabling
the collection of user fees at highway speeds through the use of transponders, Global
Positioning Systems (GPS), or cameras. With transponders, or ``tags,´´ tolls may be
collected as vehicles pass under overhead antennae. With GPS technology, like that used
on Germany's autobahns, an in-vehicle device records charges based on the vehicle's
location, and periodically uploads a summary of charges to a processing center along
with payments. Technology can also provide options for occasional users of these roads
to prepay for their trip via kiosks or the internet."
The DOT notice does not address uses of data collected by such technologies
for purposes other than traffic and congestion management.
The deadline to submit ITS-OTMC program applications is April 30, 2007. See,
notice in the Federal Register, December 18, 2006, Vol. 71, No. 242, at
|Bernanke Speaks About Growth in
12/15. Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal
Reserve Board, gave a
in Beijing, People's Republic of China, titled "The Chinese Economy: Progress and
He discussed and explained the growth of the PRC's economy since it began to
reform in 1978. He praised and advocated free markets and free trade.
He said that "Well-defined property rights (including intellectual property rights),
transparent accounting standards, good corporate governance, effective
supervisory oversight of banks and markets, the consistent enforcement of
contracts, and rules that allow for orderly bankruptcy proceedings for
unprofitable firms all help to support efficient investment. China has made
progress in developing these critical institutions, but continued focus on these
areas would provide large economic benefits in the long run." He did not dwell
on intellectual property rights." (Parentheses in original.)
He said that China also faces some significant risks and imbalances. "The
principal risk arises from the likelihood that capital is not being allocated as
efficiently as possible, the result of an undervalued exchange rate and of
capital markets that, despite positive steps, remain distorted and underdeveloped."
He also said that the US "must also do its part, in particular by increasing its
own rate of national saving and by avoiding protectionism."
Bernanke also made some comments about the nature of innovation. For example, he said
that "Substantial experience has shown that modern economies, including those in
early stages of development, are too complex to be managed effectively on a centralized
basis. Prices set in free and competitive markets serve several critical functions, among
them ... and providing incentives to engage in ... innovation ..."
He also stated that "small- and medium-sized enterprises are emerging as an engine
of job creation in China -- as they are in the United States -- even as they promote
innovation and help to create a more dynamic and diversified economy."
|Washington Tech Calendar
New items are highlighted in red.
|Monday, December 18
The House and Senate will next meet at 12:00 NOON on Tuesday,
January 4, 2007. See,
Effective date of the Report and Order (R&O) portion of
the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) R&O and Further Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking (FNPRM) in its TV white space proceeding. This item is FCC 06-156 in ET
Docket Nos. 04-186 and 02-380. The FCC adopted this item at an October 12, 2006, meeting,
and released it on October 18, 2006. See, story titled "FCC Adopts Order and FNPRM
Regarding TV White Space" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,467, October 12, 2006, and
notice in the Federal Register, November 17, 2006, Vol. 71, No. 222, at
|Tuesday, December 19
10:00 AM. Kyle McSlarrow, head of the
National Cable & Telecommunications Association
(NCTA) will hold a "Media teleconference to highlight cable's 2006 public
policy activities". The dial in number is 1-888-384-9090. The passcode is
210074. Press contact: Rob Stoddard or Brian Dietz at 202-222-2350.
4:00 PM. 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM. The President's
Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (NSTAC) will hold a partially closed
meeting. At 1:00 PM 11:00 AM
- 1:00 PM, the NSTAC will meet in public to receive comments from government
agencies, to discuss the work of the NSTAC's Emergency Communications and Interoperability
Task Force (ECITF), and to discuss the work of the Telecommunications and Electric Power
Interdependency Task Force (TEPITF). At 3:00 PM
9:00 AM - 11:00 PM, the NSTAC will meet in secret to
discuss the Global Infrastructure Resiliency (GIR) Report. See, original
notice in the Federal Register, December 4, 2006, Vol. 71, No. 232, at
Pages 70413, and
revised notice in the Federal Register, December 18, 2006, Vol. 71, No.
242, at Page 75764. Location: U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 1615 H St., NW.
2:30 - 4:30 PM. The Department of Labor's Labor
Advisory Committee for Trade Negotiations and Trade Policy will hold a meeting. See,
notice in the Federal Register: December 15, 2006, Vol. 71, No. 241, at Page
75584. Location: USTR Annex Building, Rooms 1 and 2, 1724 F St., NW.
5:00 - 7:00 PM. The
Free Press will host a party to promote the book
titled "The Case Against Media Consolidation: Evidence on Concentration, Localism
and Diversity" [no Amazon listing]. The book is an anthology of essays by Larry
Blosser, Mark Cooper, Steven Cooper, Marjorie Heins, Jeannine Kenney, Gene Kimmelman,
Glenn Manishin, Philip Napoli, Ben Scott and Derek Turner, advocating government
regulation of media. RSVP to Jen Howard at 202-265-1490 x22 or jhoward at
freepress dot net. Location: Free Press, 1st Floor Conference Room, 501 3rd
|Wednesday, December 20
RESCHEDULED FROM DECEMBER 14. 9:30 AM. The
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will hold a
agenda [PDF]. The event will be webcast by the FCC.
Location: FCC, 445 12th Street, SW, Room TW-C05 (Commission Meeting Room).
Deadline to submit initial comments to the
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regarding the petition for declaratory ruling
filed by One Stop Financial, Inc., Group Discounts, Inc., 800 Discounts, Inc., and
Winback & Conserve Program, Inc. pertaining to the AT&T tariff at issue, and
"any other issues left open by the D.C. Circuit’s Opinion in AT&T Corp. v.
FCC", 394 F.3d 933. This proceeding is WC Docket No. 06-210. See, FCC
Public Notice [3 pages in PDF] (DA 06-2360).
|Thursday, December 21
10:00 AM. The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Advisory
Committee on Diversity for Communications in the Digital Age will meet. See,
notice in the Federal Register: December 6, 2006, Vol. 71, No. 234, Page
70766. Location: FCC, Room 7-C753, 445 12th St., SW.
EXTENDED TO JANUARY 16.
Extended deadline to submit reply comments to the
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in response to
its Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) regarding its media ownership
rules. The FCC adopted this FNPRM on July 21, 2006, and released the
pages in PDF] on July 24, 2006. See also, story titled "FCC Adopts FNPRM on
Rules Regulating Ownership of Media" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,397, June 22,
2006. This FNPRM is FCC 06-93 in MB Docket No. 02-277, MM Docket No. 01-235, MM Docket No.
01-317, MM Docket No. 00-244, and MB Docket Nos. 06-121. See also, original
notice in the Federal Register, August 9, 2006, Vol. 71, No. 153, at Pages
order [PDF] extending deadlines, and
[PDF] further extending reply comment
|Friday, December 22
Deadline to submit comments to the National
Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) Computer Security Division regarding
Special Publication 800-82 [164 pages in PDF], titled "Guide to Supervisory
Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) and Industrial Control Systems
Deadline to submit reply comments to the Federal Communications
Commission (FCC) on the Supporters of the Missoula Plan's proposed interim process to
address phantom traffic issues. See, FCC
Notice [PDF] (DA 06-2294).
5:00 PM. Deadline to submit requests to the
Department of Commerce's (DOC) Bureau of
Industry and Security's (BIS) Deemed Export Advisory Committee (DEAC) to
speak at the DEAC's meeting of January 22-23, 2007, in Santa Clara, California. See,
notice in the Federal Register, December 11, 2006, Vol. 71, No. 237, Page
12/18. The Privacy and Civil
Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) published a
notice in the Federal Register that states that it seeks public comments
regarding redressing errors and ameliorating false positives associated with the
use of watch list data for aviation and other security screening
purposes. The notice seeks no deadline for submitting comments. See, Federal
Register, December 18, 2006, Vol. 71, No. 242, at Pages 75752-75753.
12/15. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
adopted, but did not release, a Report and Order and Order on Reconsideration that amends
the FCC's rules for the Amateur Radio Service. The FCC issued a
release [PDF] that describes this order. It states that the amendments revise "the
examination requirements for obtaining a General Class or Amateur Extra Class
amateur radio operator license and revising the operating privileges for
Technician Class licensees. In addition, the Order resolves a petition filed by
the American Radio Relay League, Inc. (ARRL) for partial reconsideration of an
FCC Order on amateur service rules released on October 10, 2006." This order is
FCC 06-149 in WT Docket Nos. 04-140 and 05-235.
12/15. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
Public Notice [PDF] regarding the
Center for Public
Integrity's action against the FCC under the federal Freedom of Information
Act (FOIA) to compel the FCC to release all Form 477s filed with the FCC.
The FCC mandates the filing of Form 477 twice per year to enable it to study the
extent of local telecommunications competition and deployment of broadband
services. See, FCC's Form 477
web page. This case is Center for Public Integrity v. FCC, U.S.
District Court for the District of Columbia, D.C. No. 06-1644 (RMC).
|About Tech Law Journal
Tech Law Journal publishes a free access web site and
subscription e-mail alert. The basic rate for a subscription
to the TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert is $250 per year. However, there
are discounts for subscribers with multiple recipients. Free one
month trial subscriptions are available. Also, free
subscriptions are available for journalists,
federal elected officials, and employees of the Congress, courts, and
executive branch. The TLJ web site is
free access. However, copies of the TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert are not
published in the web site until one month after writing. See, subscription
P.O. Box 4851, Washington DC, 20008.
Copyright 1998 - 2006 David Carney, dba Tech Law Journal. All