Washington, D.C. is All Shook Up

By Paul Maxwell Report Archives
Cover image for  article: Washington, D.C. is All Shook Up

It’s almost a new year. I’ll be glad when this one is gone. It has certainly been interesting; especially in the sense of the ancient Confucian curse. On the good side, I got a new left knee. It works, too, as I discovered when a group of us went on the backroads bicycle trip from Prague to Budapest.  While there we had a nice visit with longtime cable guy Nimrod Kovacs at his winery in Eger, Hungary. We had some really great wines, too. But, last week I went to Washington, D.C. to take a look at what’s coming. Oh, boy! Talk about a town that’s all shook up.

On the media side of things, I did get to attend the Federal Communications Bar dinner (thanks to Summit Ridge’s Armand Musey) honoring the Chairman of the Federal Confusion Commission, Tom Wheeler. Now, Tom can be a pretty funny guy when he wants to be … and he got off a couple of pretty good one-liners before he segued into mentioning/honoring a long list of fellow employees of the Commission.  A nice gesture; one that, except for routine introductions as he began his comments, most notably did not extend to his fellow Commissioners.

I wore my best cowboy boots hoping to have the opportunity to kick Tom in the shins.  No such luck. But I did get to hear him ruefully lament the passing of his ill-considered set-top box initiative -- and he sort of admitted it would have walloped existing copyright agreements right in the noggin.

It’s hard to tell what will come next at the FCC.  Maybe one of the Trump transition folks will get the chairmanship.  Or it could be an Indiana state senator/acolyte of you-know-who.  Could also be that Layer 3’s David Fellows will win that lottery. David was very busy introducing himself to the current Commissioners on Thursday night.

Whatever happens, it sure looks like all of the infrastructure and content companies will be in fat city with soaring stock prices for at least a couple of years.

Random Notes

The other interesting thing I did in D.C. was take a guided tour – by the CEO of the Newseum.  Thanks to my old friend Leo Hindery, The CableCENTER CEO Jana Henthorn and I spent a couple of hours looking at this astonishing monument to a free press.  As someone who has written quite a bit about the need for a free press and was once an actual reporter, I found it a great deal more moving than the thousand-plus person paean to Wheeler on Thursday.  Moving among roving bands of high school students, the tour was most impressive, especially so because of current movements to curtail press freedoms. Turkey’s government stands out as a key example of this (as do some past moves by our President-elect’s entourage). Perhaps more to the point: Just last week United Technologies’ Carrier Corporation (you know, the folks who got $7 million in tax breaks for keeping a manufacturing plant in Indiana) barred the reporter who first broke the news about Carrier’s Mexican plans from their all-hail to Donald Trump news conference.

As I said up top, even at the last 2016 just gets more interesting.

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