The Regulatory Mix, TMI’s daily blog of regulatory activities, is a snapshot of PUC, FCC, legislative, and occasionally court issues that our regulatory monitoring team uncovers each day. Depending on their significance, some items may be the subject of a TMI Briefing.
The Department of Justice announced it has proposed a settlement agreement that would permit Charter Communications Inc. to complete its proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC) and Bright House Networks LLC. The settlement includes several conditions, including:
- Prohibiting “New Charter” from entering into or enforcing any agreement with a programmer that forbids, limits or creates incentives to limit the programmer’s provision of content to one or more online video distributors (OVDs) and providing
- Providing that New Charter will not be able to avail itself of other distributors’ most favored nation (MFN) provisions if they are inconsistent with this prohibition.
- Prohibiting New Charter from retaliating against programmers for licensing to OVDs.
At the same time, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced he had circulated order that would approve the merger but include conditions that will be in place for seven years that focus on removing unfair barriers to video competition. The announced conditions include:
- New Charter will not be permitted to charge usage based prices or impose data caps.
- New Charter will be prohibited from charging interconnection fees, including to online video providers, which deliver large volumes of Internet traffic to broadband customers.
Commissioner O’Reilly issued a statement in response to the circulation of the FCC order by Chairman Wheeler saying, in part, “At first blush, it appears that the Commission may have operated well outside the four corners of the merger application to pursue unrelated matters and policies. I will carefully consider the item put before me and vote in a timely manner.”
Alascom Consent Decree
The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau (EB) entered into a Consent Decree to resolve its investigation into whether Alascom, Inc. operated three common carrier point-to-point microwave stations on unauthorized frequencies. The regulations involved ensure that devices that emit radio frequency radiation comply with the FCC’s technical requirements and do not interfere with authorized communications. To settle the matter, Alascom admitted that it operated the three stations on unauthorized frequencies from April 3, 2014, until approximately April 26, 2015, and that it implemented major modifications to the stations without prior FCC approval. Alascom agreed to implement a compliance plan to ensure there is no reoccurrence of these violations and pay a $36,000 civil penalty.
SADC (aka Business Data Services Data Collection)
The FCC released another list of additional parties that have signed an acknowledgement of confidentiality (AOC) and that seek to review the data gathered through the FCC’s special access data collection (SADC). The list includes persons that signed an AOC since the FCC’s last Public Notice. Companies that submitted confidential or highly confidential information in response to the SADC have until April 29, 2016, to object to the disclosure of their data and information to any of the parties on the list.
The PSC finds that CMC Telecom, Inc. failed to provide its customers with telecommunications relay service (TRS) as of February 7, 2015, as required by the Michigan Telecommunications Act, and assessed a fine of $200 per day for each day the company is in violation. The PSC also reopened the proceeding for the limited purpose of determining on what date, if any, the company began providing TRS to deaf and hard-of-hearing residents, in accordance with the Act. The parties will appear before an administrative law judge on May 10 for a prehearing conference.
The PSC extended the time for filing comment in its proceeding considering various issues associated with moving to a connection-based contribution methodology to support the Nebraska Universal Service Fund (NUSF) programs. Comments are now due June 6, 2016, (they had been due May 6, 2016); reply comments are now due June 21, 2016 (they had been due May 24, 2016). Among other things, the PSC is asking comment on: (1) how to define connection and assessable service for NUSF purposes; (2) how to count wireless versus wireline connections; (3) how to count residential versus multi-line business connections; and (4) an appropriate transition period from the current revenues-based system. TMI Briefing Service subscribers see Briefing dated 4/14/16.