Cable & Cable Companies
Will Higher TV Ads, Retrans Fees Meet Bottom-Line Expectations? | Wayne Friedman, Media Post
After an expected drop in TV stations’ advertising revenue in 2017 versus the year before, TV stations’ prospects this year look better — thanks to political advertising. At the same time, non-advertising sources in the form of TV retransmission revenues will climb. That’s also expected. The question is: What is the unexpected for TV stations?
Spectrum Ditching Usage Measurement Meter Tool in July; Usage Caps Not in the Cards | Phillip Dampier, Stop the Cap
Charter Communications is abandoning any pretense of data caps on its internet service by decommissioning its internet usage measurement tool for residential subscribers effective this July. Company officials began notifying customers in billing statements that the usage measurement tool will be dropped effective next month. Charter Communications markets Spectrum internet service as free of any data caps, and a usage measurement system only confused customers about whether their internet usage was truly unlimited.
ACA, Charter, Comcast applaud end of net neutrality rules | Daniel Frankel, FierceCable
After collectively spending billions of dollars on things like DOCSIS 3.1 network upgrades over the last few years, the cable industry marked the sunsetting of Title II internet regulations with a strange declaration. Turns out that FCC deregulation has made it safe to invest in the internet again. “Without the regulatory overhang of these rules, businesses like ours will have the certainty they need to make infrastructure investments over the long-term, helping more people get online and enabling even faster broadband,” declared Charter Communications, in an afternoon policy blog post yesterday.
Comcast Kills ‘Congestion Management’ System Launched in 2008 | Karl Bode, DSL Reports
Back in 2008 Comcast introduced a new network management system on its broadband network that throttled back user connections to DSL-like speeds if they engaged in heavy consumption of bandwidth. The move was a response to revelations that Comcast had been throttling all upstream BitTorrent connections — then lied about it to the press and public. Comcast’s failure to be transparent about what was happening with user connections was one of the cornerstones of the modern net neutrality debate, and the argument that rules were needed to ensure that ISPs were transparent with their users. But Comcast appears to have quietly dismantled that system this week.
Comcast, AT&T, Verizon say they have no paid prioritization plans | Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica
The repeal of federal net neutrality rules became official yesterday, giving broadband providers the right to block or throttle Internet traffic or to prioritize traffic in exchange for payment. But at least for now, some major ISPs are saying they won’t do any of those things. The Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T websites all say they aren’t doing any blocking, throttling, or paid prioritization.
Comcast-Fox: Wall Street Expects A Bid Any Minute Now | Dawn C. Chmielewski, Deadline Hollywood
Investors anticipate that Comcast will launch a rival bid for 21st Century Fox in the wake of today’s federal court ruling clearing the way for the AT&T-Time Warner mega-merger. Fox’s stock rocketed in after-hours trading, rising 7% to $43.42 tonight, in a sign that Wall Street expects the U.S. cable giant to challenge Disney for the prized media asset, with its valuable international holdings, lucrative cinematic franchises and well-regarded cable networks.
AT&T Merger Approval
AT&T’s $85 billion deal for Time Warner is a humiliating black eye for DOJ officials, but the real worry is if it taught them the wrong lesson | Troy Wolverton, Business Insider
The US Justice Department lost its effort to block AT&T’s merger with Time Warner. But the biggest losers could be the rest of us, depending on how federal antitrust regulators react to the decision. If the lesson the DOJ (and the FTC which oversees mergers), take away is that they should avoid making a fuss about big mergers and acquisitions, we’re going to see a wave of consolidation that’s inevitably going to lead to higher prices, consumer unfriendly practices, and a stifling of innovation.
Wait’s Over: Judge Clears the Way for AT&T-Time Warner Combo | Amy Maclean, CableFax
Thank goodness there was a parade for Stanley Cup winner the Washington Capitals Tuesday. The celebration a few blocks from the US District Court helped take a little of the tension off those waiting around for the landmark ruling on whether AT&T can proceed with its acquisition of Time Warner. In the end, it was just as the pundits predicted with Judge Richard Leon rejecting the DOJ’s attempt to block the $85bln deal.
AT&T-Time Warner merger approved, setting the stage for more consolidation across corporate America | Tony Romm & Brian Fung, Washington Post
A federal judge approved AT&T’s $85 billion purchase of Time Warner on Tuesday, handing the telecom giant a massive victory that could hamstring U.S. regulators seeking to block big corporate mergers. The case – one of the most closely watched antitrust trials in decades – is viewed as a bellwether for other deals waiting in the wings. From Comcast’s potential bid for 21st Century Fox to CVS’s acquisition of Aetna, massive corporations increasingly have been seeking to expand their reach by buying up companies in different lines of business. The judge’s decision, which is allowing AT&T to merge with Time Warner without conditions, shows the federal government may struggle to rein in such mergers.
AT&T Defeats DOJ In Merger Fight, Opening The Door To Some Major Competitive Headaches | Karl Bode, TechDirt
AT&T has defeated the DOJ in a court battle over whether or not the company will be allowed to acquire Time Warner for $86 billion. In a ruling (pdf), U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon stated that the government failed to make its case that the merger would harm AT&T’s competitors, most of which are now trying to keep pace in the streaming video space. Consumer advocates have routinely warned that AT&T will use its greater leverage to make must-have content (like Time Warner owned CNN or HBO) significantly more costly for companies hoping to compete with AT&T’s own TV services, including its newish streaming video effort, DirecTV Now.
Who Wall Street Sees as Winners and Losers in the AT&T-Time Warner Verdict | Aaron Pressman, Fortune
After a federal judge ruled on Tuesday that AT&T could buy Time Warner, investors poured into some stocks while unloading others. On the most direct impact, shares of AT&T (T), which were already up 6% over the past week, gave up some of that gain during after-hours trading and declined 2%. Meanwhile, shares of Time Warner (TWX), up only 3% the past week, gained another 4%.
Netflix and Alphabet will need to become ISPs, fast | Danny Crichton, TechCrunch
This week completely scrambled the video landscape, and its implications are going to take months to fully understand. First is the district court’s decision to approve the merger of AT&T and Time Warner announced just moments ago. That will create one of the largest content creation and distribution companies in the world when it closes. It is also expected to encourage Comcast to make a similar bid for 21st Century Fox, further consolidating the market. As Chip Pickering, CEO of pro-competition advocacy org INCOMPAS put it, “AT&T is getting the merger no one wants, but everyone will pay for.”
AT&T-Time Warner merger approved | Eric Fruits, Truth on the Market
AT&T’s merger with Time Warner has lead to one of the most important, but least interesting, antitrust trials in recent history. The merger itself is somewhat unimportant to consumers. It’s about a close to a “pure” vertical merger as we can get in today’s world and would not lead to a measurable increase in prices paid by consumers. At the same time, Richard J. Leon’s decision to approve the merger may have sent a signal regarding how the anticipated Fox-Disney (or Comcast), CVS-Aetna, and Cigna-Express Scripts mergers might proceed.
Court approves merger of AT&T and Time Warner | Jordan Crook & Danny Crichton, TechCrunch
United States District Court Judge Richard J. Leon has ruled in favor of AT&T in the government’s antitrust suit to block AT&T’s proposed merger with Time Warner . That decision matches word on the street over the past few weeks, and delivers a stern rebuke to the Trump administration, which had opposed the deal from its earliest days. The decision was made following the close of markets in New York, and after-hours trading was muted to the decision.
Judge approves landmark $85 billion AT&T-Time Warner merger, paving way for T-Mobile-Sprint deal | Taylor Soper, GeekWire
The $85 billion merger between AT&T and Time Warner was approved by U.S District Court Judge Richard Leon on Tuesday, a landmark ruling expected to pave the way for other media and telecommunications industry deals — including the T-Mobile-Sprint tie-up. The Justice Department had sued to block the AT&T-Time Warner merger, citing anti-competitive reasons and violation of antitrust laws. But Leon rejected the government’s challenge, allowing the combination of a content giant and the nation’s second-largest wireless carrier that also operates DirecTV satellite services.
The fate of the world’s media is being decided right now | Ashley Rodriguez, Quartz
A tangled web of deals has tied together the fates of the world’s biggest media conglomerates. A federal judge will decide this afternoon (June 12) whether AT&T will be allowed to buy Time Warner, parent of Westworld and Game of Thrones network HBO, DC Entertainment, and Harry Potter studio Warner Bros. The US Department of Justice sued the telecom late last year to block the proposed $85.4 billion deal. The outcome will influence a number of other potential deals.
Now that AT&T has been cleared to buy Time Warner, here’s what happens next | Alex Sherman, CNBC
On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled that AT&T could buy Time Warner with no conditions attached, denying a U.S. Department of Justice antitrust challenge to the deal. The DoJ could still appeal, but assuming it doesn’t, here’s what happens next.
The Three Major Forms of Surveillance on Facebook | Siva Vaidhyanathan, Slate
Back in 2008 I was very careful with Facebook. I saw its hazards—and its benefits—as chiefly social. I established (and maintain to this day) a firm rule against interacting with current students on Facebook. I knew that by friending someone, I could peer into aspects of that person’s life to which I was not invited. And in those early days of social media, few people had developed norms and habits to guide their use of the service. I did not want to know whom my students were dating, what they wore to a Halloween party, or—most of all—what they thought of my courses. I was also pretty careful about what information I posted about myself.
Retailers Beware: Facebook Will Ban Your Ads If You’re ‘Bad’ | Kevin Kelleher, Fortune
For years, Facebook has envisioned its apps as venues where businesses can interact intimately with their customers. But now, under pressure to clean up its service, the social network is taking a more active role in policing shoddy businesses that use its service. Facebook said on Tuesday that it would ban businesses that receive enough customer complaints from advertising. The company is pitching the move as effort to improve customer service through its core Facebook app.
Facebook dishonestly pushes the Honest Ads Act | Luke Wachob, Washington Examiner
Facebook’s lobbyists recently teamed up with Maryland legislators to craft what they call a “national model” for regulating ads on social media. The resulting law is so bad for free speech online that Gov. Larry Hogan warned it may be unconstitutional, and the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association threatened a lawsuit. Yet that isn’t stopping Facebook and other tech companies from pushing Congress to adopt a similar plan nationwide.
Amazon Just Killed a Tax That Helps Homeless People | Glenn Fleishman, Fortune
Amazon’s threat to stall its growth in Seattle over a new business tax that would fund homeless shelters and low-income housing paid off today when the nine-member city council that passed the measure unanimously just four weeks ago voted 7-2 to repeal it after a contentious public hearing. Mayor Jenny Durkan has promised to sign the repeal, a strong retreat in the face of an e-commerce behemoth by an official elected in November who promised to balance community and business interests.
How to Fight Amazon (Before You Turn 29) | Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic
Shortly after i met lina khan, her cellphone rang. The call was from a representative of a national organization, regarding a speech it had asked her to give. Khan was courteous on the phone, but she winced momentarily after hanging up. “That was the American Bar Association,” she confessed. “I don’t know if I’ve passed the bar yet.” This feeling—that Khan’s ideas are in high demand slightly before her time—has characterized much of her life lately. In the past year, the 29-year-old legal scholar’s work has been cited approvingly by the lefty, rabble-rousing congressman Keith Ellison and by a Trump-appointed assistant attorney general, Makan Delrahim. She has been interviewed by NPR and written op-eds for The New York Times.
Here’s every time Amazon has made a play for banking services | Ainsley Harris, Fast Company
Amazon has created a voice-based digital assistant, a smart door lock, and a home security camera. So why not offer a version of home insurance that takes advantage of all that data? As The Information reported last week, that appears to be exactly what Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is interested in doing. By monitoring each aspect of a home’s security, Amazon could, in theory, offer lower premiums than established insurance providers.
Google wants to make searching for college less of a headache | Marrian Zhou, CNet
Google rolled out a new feature Tuesday designed to make it easier for prospective students to search for that perfect college. The feature pulls together college information scattered online into one place. When you search for a four-year US college, it’ll highlight information about the college’s admission rate, cost, graduation rate, average cost after student aid is applied, and other data that could help you make a choice.
Google pampers its employees, who earn an average of $200,000, but some of them still want to unionize | Greg Sandoval, Business Insider
For some Google employees, it’s not enough that the company pays well, provides free food and allows them to occasionally nod off in the company’s nap pods. Some are now demanding that Google operate within their own ethical guidelines. So said a Google staffer involved in protests that forced the company to promise not to build artificial-intelligence tools for the military.
How Tech Companies Like Google Deal With Terrorists on Their Platforms | Erika Fry, Fortune
What should tech companies like Google and Facebook do about terrorists and hate groups that flock to their platforms to search for like-minded individuals and disseminate propaganda? While one may instinctually say banish them, Vidhya Ramalingam, the founder of Moonshot CVE, a startup that works with such tech companies as well as governments, advocates for a different approach: engagement.
FCC / Policy / Regulation / Net Neutrality
Can we finally move on from net neutrality? | Casey Given, Washington Examiner
On Monday, the Federal Communication Commission’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order went into effect reversing Obama-era net neutrality rules. For months, pundits and politicians on the left have tried to whip the public into a frenzy over this highly technical matter, portraying the reversal as hailing a new Wild West era for the World Wide Web. This could not be any further from the truth.
Net Neutrality is Antitrust for Dummies | Richard Bennett, HighTech Forum
The US Internet is now free of the restrictions imposed by the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order. Advocates argue that it’s also free of the protections the order provided to consumers, innovators, and established monopolies; this claim remains to be proved. Reading today’s media coverage I was struck by how poorly media – even the writers and outlets who specialize on tech policy – communicate this issue to the public. The coverage says, with great uniformity, that net neutrality is now defunct.
Oddly The Trump FCC Doesn’t Much Want To Talk About Why It Made Up A DDOS Attack | Karl Bode, TechDirt
We’ve discussed for a while how the FCC appears to have completely made up a DDOS attack in a bizarre effort to downplay the “John Oliver effect.” You’ll recall that both times the HBO Comedian did a bit on net neutrality (here’s the first and the second), the resulting consumer outrage crashed the FCC website. And while the FCC tried to repeatedly conflate genuine consumer outrage with a malicious attack, they just as routinely failed to provide any hard evidence supporting their allegations, resulting in growing skepticism over whether the FCC was telling the truth.
Dems question FCC’s claim of cyberattack during net neutrality comment period | Harper Neidig, The Hill
A pair of Democratic senators are demanding answers from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on a 2017 cyberattack following a media report raising questions about the agency’s official story. Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) sent FCC Chairman Ajit Pai a list of questions about an incident last year during which the agency’s comment-filing website was taken offline after the late-night comedian John Oliver urged his audience to flood it with pro-net neutrality comments.
CTIA, CAA, Public Knowledge and more get behind AIRWAVES Act | Monica Alleven, FierceWireless
CTIA and more than a dozen other entities are urging lawmakers to pass the Advancing Innovation and Reinvigorating Widespread Access to Viable Electromagnetic Spectrum (AIRWAVES) Act, which would require the FCC to identify more spectrum for commercial wireless use. CTIA, the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA), NATE, Public Knowledge and others sent a letter on Tuesday to lawmakers in hopes of providing some fresh momentum toward getting AIRWAVES passed. The American Library Association, National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators and National Black Chamber of Commerce are also among the signatories.
Around 5% of All Monero Currently in Circulation Has Been Mined Using Malware | Catalin Cimpanu, Bleeping Computer
At least 5% of all the Monero cryptocurrency currently in circulation has been mined using malware, and about 2% of the total daily hashrate comes from devices infected with cryptocurrency-mining malware. These numbers are the results of in-depth research of the coin-mining malware scene by security researchers from Palo Alto Networks.
Russian cyber sanctions blowback | Tim Starks, Politico
U.S. sanctions on Russian companies accused of helping the Kremlin launch cyberattacks caught the security research community and several of the targeted firms off guard. The Treasury Department sanctions announced Monday seek to punish Digital Security, the Kvant Scientific Research Institute and Divetechnoservices, along with two companies that the U.S. says are “owned or controlled” by Digital Security: ERPScan and Embedi. But cyber experts were surprised to see ERPScan and Embedi on the list. The companies are “key infosec vendors,” tweeted independent security researcher Kevin Beaumont. ERPScan is highly respected by the research giant Gartner for its analysis of SAP enterprise security platforms, Beaumont told MC in an email. Embedi is well-known for finding flaws in Intel’s computer chips. “There is either a huge mistake or the US knows something amazing we don’t,” said a respected security researcher who goes by the pseudonym “the grugq.”
For almost 11 years, hackers could easily bypass 3rd-party macOS signature checks | Dan Goodin, Ars Technica
For almost 11 years, hackers have had an easy way to get macOS malware past the scrutiny of a host of third-party security tools by tricking them into believing the malicious wares were signed by Apple, researchers said Tuesday. Digital signatures are a core security function for all modern operating systems. The cryptographically generated signatures make it possible for users to know with complete certainty that an app was digitally signed with the private key of a trusted party. But, according to the researchers, the mechanism many macOS security tools have used since 2007 to check digital signatures has been trivial to bypass. As a result, it has been possible for anyone to pass off malicious code as an app that was signed with the key Apple uses to sign its apps.
Cryptojacking malware proves a big winner for web crooks | Danny Palmer, ZDNet
Web crooks are making money by forcing PCs and other devices to mine cryptocurrency for them according to new research. Cryptojacking malware uses stealth: it secretly infects a victim’s computer or smartphone with malware which uses the CPU of the device to mine for cryptocurrency, which is secretly transferred into a wallet owned by the attacker.
Malware is Infecting Fire TV Devices | Luke Bouma, Cord Cutters News
Do you sideload apps on your Fire TV? Well, it may be installing a malware that is using your Fire TV or Fire TV Stick to min for cryptocurrency. The new ADB.Miner software spreads by downloading and sideloading 3rd party apps for the Fire TV. So far there have been no reports of getting the new malware from the official Amazon Fire TV App Store. Once your Fire TV is infected it will be turned into a miner to earn cryptocurrency for the creator of ADB.Miner.
Android Malware Found Mining Cryptocurrency on Amazon Fire TVs | Ryan Whitwam, ExtremeTech
Amazon’s Fire TV devices are a popular way to watch streaming content on a TV because they support plenty of services and come with a low price tag. However, a new spate of malware infections has the potential to interrupt your viewing as the device secretly mines cryptocurrency in the background. The good news is you have to make several critical mistakes to get infected.
Content Protection / Piracy
Illegal memes? Weak Safe Harbor? Unpacking the proposed EU copyright overhaul | Glyn Moody, Ars Technica
“Modern copyright rules fit for the digital age” is how the European Commission describes its proposals for the first major overhaul of EU copyright law since 2001. But a wide range of startups and industry, academic, digital activist and human rights groups believe that key elements of the proposals will cause serious harm to the functioning of the Internet in the EU and beyond. A vote taking place next week in the key European Parliament JURI committee will determine the likely shape of the law.
BitTorrent Sells to TRON Cryptocurrency Founder Justin Sun | Ernesto, Torrent Freak
Last month we were the first to report that Justin Sun, the entrepreneur behind the popular cryptocurrency TRON, was in the process of acquiring BitTorrent Inc. The San-Francisco based file-sharing company confirmed the interest from Sun but noted that the acquisition was not yet 100% finalized.
Over the Top / Streaming / Cord Cutting
Roku is The 3rd Largest “Cable TV” Company In The United States | Luke Bouma, Cord Cutters News
So how big and successful is Roku? If you look at it as a cable TV company, it would be the 3rd largest provider in the United States. Larger than Spectrum with Roku falling just behind Comcast and AT&T. Look for Roku to someday top Comcast and AT&T. According to their recent quarterly report, the number of Roku accounts rose 47% as Comcast and AT&T remained falt. (Note that is not devices but new accounts that could represent multiple devices.)
Hulu Gives Us a Close Look At What People Are Binge Watching | Luke Bouma, Cord Cutters News
Today Hulu gives us a rare look into what people are watching on Hulu. Rarely do streaming services give us an in-depth look but today we get to look into what Hulu subscribers are binging on. Hulu viewers are watching, on average, 10 different shows at one time — a personalized mix of originals, comedies, dramas and reality.
How Big Tech Is Dealing with the Big Backlash | Adam Lashinsky, Fortune
It’s a big day in the world. Two unlikely leaders of powerful countries met in Singapore. Later in the day a federal judge will rule on the most significant antitrust case in years. Peace among women and men and massive conglomeration of tech and media assets are among the potential outcomes. If you’ll permit me to draw a thin thread between these events and what’s on my mind today, it’s the importance of face-to-face communications. That summit meeting and the ruling in court are the result of humans arguing, discussing, negotiating, and, dare I say, learning from each other.
Seattle’s City Council Surrenders, Will Repeal Head Tax It Passed Last Month | John Sexton, HotAir
That was fast. The Seattle City Council voted to approve a $275 per employee per year head tax on May 14th. Yesterday, less than a month later, Mayor Jenny Durkan and seven members of the city council (out of nine) put out a statement saying they had reconsidered and would repeal the tax.
Amazon says Seattle head tax repeal ‘is the right decision for the region’s economic prosperity’ | Monica Nickelsburg, GeekWire
Whatever bridge existed between Amazon and Seattle government has been slowly burning for weeks as the debate over a new tax on the city’s top-grossing companies raged on. The City Council threw water on the issue Tuesday, voting 7-2 to repeal the tax, which was originally intended to address homelessness, a consequence of Seattle’s historic boom. Although the city turned down the heat, it remains to be seen whether that bridge can ever be rebuilt. But Amazon did indicate a willingness to move forward with its hometown in a statement issued after the vote.
Facing Pressure From Amazon, Seattle Repeals ‘Head Tax’ | Michael Hobbes, HuffPost
In a 7-2 vote, the Seattle City Council voted to repeal a tax on large corporations to fund affordable housing and homeless services. The council had voted unanimously to pass the tax just over a month ago. Amid boos, cheers and chanting, three councilmembers who’d voted for the tax ― then voted to repeal it ― told a packed City Hall audience that they had no other option.
The internet is finally going to be bigger than TV worldwide | Ashley Rodriguez, Quartz
Next year, for the first time, we’ll spend more time using the internet than watching TV. People will spend an average of 170.6 minutes a day, or nearly three hours, using the internet for things like shopping, browsing social media, chatting with friends, and streaming music and video in 2019, a recent report by media agency Zenith estimated. That’s a tad more than the 170.3 minutes they’re expected to spend watching TV.
AT&T Upgrades Home Internet Plans – 5, 100, 300, and 1,000 Mbps Now Available | Phillip Dampier, Stop the Cap
AT&T quietly changed their home internet plans this week, dramatically boosting speeds for some of their lower-priced offerings in areas served by fiber, while boosting gigabit pricing by $10 a month in some instances. Last week, AT&T was selling 5, 50, 100, and 1000 Mbps plans in AT&T Fiber areas. This week, customers can choose 5, 100, 300, or 1000 Mbps. Existing customers will likely have to switch plans to get the speed upgrades.