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FCC to tackle Native American access issues, Retransmission Consent & Universal Service

This month’s FCC Open meeting scheduled for Thursday is full of great items.

Most notably, the PayTV folks will finally get the FCC’s attention to change up the old archaic rules that have contributed to a series of lockouts of late with the TV watching consumers paying the ultimate price when their signals get blocked when the pay and free/broadcast TV sides have a dispute.

Also, in the interest of civil rights and minority inclusion and assistance, there are a lot of items to secure  the ability of Native Americans on tribal lands to get access to wireless and broadcast signals, and eliminate barriers to their broadband adoption.

Meanwhile, the MMTC and FCC are at odds over some 23 civil rights proposals that group says remains unresolved at the FCC with no signs of their acceleration.

But the good news is that at the request of the president to streamline rules and eliminate burdensome federal regulations, (and it was probably in the works before anyway) it looks like the Universal Service Lifeline and linkup programs are going to undergo some overhaul.  That issue will also be contentious as various interested parties have different and sometimes divergent ideas on how the system should be reworked!

The complete list of items on the agenda are below

  • Native Nations Spectrum NPRM: A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to explore a range of recommendations to help close the wireless gap on Tribal Lands.
  • Tribal and Rural Radio Orders and FNPRM: Orders revising rules or establishing waiver standards that will make it easier for Native Nations to provide radio service to areas that are the functional equivalent of Tribal Lands and to Tribal Lands that are small or irregularly shaped. A further notice invites additional comment on adopting a Tribal Bidding Credit and alternative ways to foster radio service by Native Nations on their lands. Also, an order adjusting policies for determining whether proposed new radio stations or station moves constitute an equitable  distribution of radio service under Section 307(b) of the Communications Act.
  • Omnibus NOI on Improving Communications Services for Native Nations: A Notice of Inquiry that explores ways to overcome the barriers to deployment of communications services to Native Nations communities, and to improve consultation and coordination with Native Nations
  • NPRM to Streamline and Clarify the Commission’s Rules Governing Retransmission Consent: A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that seeks comment on changes to rules governing or affecting retransmission consent negotiations between broadcasters and multichannel video programming distributors.
  • Lifeline/Link Up Reform and Modernization NPRM: A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing to reform the Universal Service Fund’s Lifeline and Link Up programs to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse; improve program administration, accountability, and fiscal responsibility; and modernize the program in light of market and technology changes, including to support pilot programs for broadband adoption.
  • Advanced Communications Services NPRM: A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that seeks comment on rules implementing provisions of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA). The NPRM proposes rules requiring providers of advanced communications services and manufacturers of equipment used for those services to make their products accessible to people with disabilities.

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