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New Interview With FCC Chair On Net Neutrality, Digital TV, and More

April 9, 2007

Television industry trade publication Broadcasting & Cable's website has just posted an interview with FCC Chair Kevin Martin.

Chair Martin talks about indecency profanity and violence on television; his views on cable tv, digital broadcast technology standards, television station ownership rules, and net neutrality.

With regard to network neutrality, Broadcasting & Cable's John Eggerton asked Chair Martin:

"Network neutrality. You already have the guidelines and, you say, the authority to enforce them. Why not take the next step and codify them in the rules?"

Martin replies:

"The commission’s Internet Policy Statement states that access to Internet content is critical and the blocking or restricting consumers’ access to the content of their choice would not be tolerated. Although we are not aware of current blocking situations, the commission remains vigilant and stands ready to step in to protect consumers’ access to content on the Internet.

"Generally speaking, I do not believe in issuing regulations to correct a problem in absence of evidence that the problem even exists. And to date, we have not seen many examples of consumers’ being blocked from accessing content on the Internet. I am concerned that rules preventing operators from managing their networks may deter the very investment in broadband infrastructure that is essential to ensuring every American has access to affordable broadband services. I believe we must strike a balance between addressing concerns about access to content on the Internet and encouraging investment in broadband infrastructure. Our Internet Policy Statement and our examination of the current practices in the broadband market strikes the right balance."

And since this is a blog where we care about technical standards, here is another exchange between Eggerton and Martin that you might find relevant:

Eggerton:

Did the FCC pick the wrong digital-transmission standard with A-VSB now that broadcasters are increasingly looking at mobile applications?

Martin:

"When I became chairman, one of the first things I asked of both the broadcast industry and engineers was what were the implications of the technical challenges of being able to do mobile. I think that the opportunity for broadcasters to devote some of their digital capacity to mobile is one of the most exciting opportunities for them.

Particularly, in light of what we already talked about, if they are not able to do a multicasting strategy, then they could have spectrum that they could very easily utilize for mobile broadcasting.

When we were at the consumer-electronics show, we saw a Samsung and Sinclair demonstration of [an A-VSB] mobile-broadcasting opportunity. That has a lot of promise."

Once again, the link to the entire interview is here.




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