DTV Primer

Chris Llana, Editor



Senate Communications Bill Languishes

September 22, 2006

Well, it looks like the mother-of-all-bills S. 2686 is not going to be passed anytime soon. As you may recall, this bill included provisions creating a national cable franchise system (for Verizon and AT&T's wannabe cable TV services), digital video flag authorization, DTV transition relief for cable TV systems, and DTV transition consumer education, among many other things (eg. the war on terrorism).

Anyway, yesterday the Ogre (a.k.a. Ted Stevens, Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee) gave a couple of short speeches asking that S. 2686 be allowed to proceed to the Senate floor for debate. You may also recall that the same Ogre swore in a Committee hearing that the bill would be passed no later than September.

Well, there was the little matter of a "hold" being placed on the bill, thereby requiring floor debate, thereby opening the bill to a filibuster stall. Something about anti-consumer "net neutrality" provisions. Presumably Stevens is asking that the threat of a filibuster be removed, not so much that the bill be debated.

And we must conclude that he has not been successful in finding the 60 votes he needed to block the filibuster.

The Ogre

There had been some previous Senator-talk suggesting that the bill should be broken up so that the non-controversial parts could be passed, but that would have been effective lawmaking. What would the Senate be if everything wasn't turned into a partisan political battle?

In his speech to the Progress and Freedom Foundation (a cable industry-friendly forum), he conceded that the bill "obviously can't be done before we go into recess, but I do hope we can find some way before we leave to schedule it so it will be part of the plan when we come back into session, probably on November 13th."

Doesn't sound too much like we'll be getting those DTV consumer education mandates this year, or the national video franchising, or the broadcast flag authorization for the FCC, or . . .