February 28, 2007

A Look at Radio Industry Consolidation [8:10 am]

Saving Radio in the Satellite Era

The more urgent challenge is to begin searching for alternate ways to revive radio. Consolidation is not the only option. Today broadcast stations are beginning to convert their signals to the digital spectrum, which allows for each owner to operate multiple stations in the same space. To date, the F.C.C. has imposed few restrictions on the way radio stations use these new outlets. The commission is both giving away a precious public resource and squandering a historic opportunity to enliven the airwaves.

Fortunately, there is a solution: Require every station that wants to add to its holdings to broadcast a minimum level of original, live and local material. This proposal is based on one of the most successful broadcast policies in American history. In the 1960s, when the F.C.C. opened the FM dial, AM stations rushed to acquire licenses — but then simulcast the same shows they were already playing. This was not what regulators had in mind, so they ruled that FM stations had to play original content on at least half of their programming hours. Because radio companies didn’t want to invest much in FM, they ceded control of their studios to young people and amateur broadcasters. The result was the advent of free-form music radio, with programs so fresh and compelling that listeners flocked to FM and stayed there — at least until corporate broadcasters standardized it, too.

It’s time for Congress and the F.C.C. to consider policy ideas intended to serve the public interest, like requiring broadcast radio stations to air original programming on the new digital stations, or allowing satellite companies to run local news, talk and music. Mega-mergers are unlikely to provide any real benefits to citizens and consumers. Why resort to even more consolidation when we already know it doesn’t work?

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Platforms for User-Generated Content [7:39 am]

A CBS Take on the YouTube Madness

The CSTV Networks division of the CBS Corporation is starting a campaign today with the theme “Are you fan enough?,” inviting viewers to upload the do-it-yourself video clips to a community section of the CSTV Web site (cstv.com/postup). The campaign will appear on CSTV and cstv.com all during March Madness — officially, the men’s basketball tournament of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which begins on March 15 — and will end after the championship game is played in Atlanta on April 2.

The campaign represents the largest effort to date by CSTV to take part in a popular trend known as user-generated content, which seeks to capitalize on the eagerness of younger consumers to produce and share video clips on Web sites like MySpace and YouTube.

“This campaign is about the voice of the fans,” said Brian T. Bedol, president and chief executive at CSTV Networks in New York. “It says CSTV is a brand that connects college sports fans to their passion.”

America is experiencing the rise of “a video filmmaker culture,” Mr. Bedol said, now that “video cameras are in the hands of millions of everyday citizens in the form of digital cameras, camcorders and cellphones.”

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Love It [7:35 am]

Another example of the merits of Charlie Nesson’s view on how to some of these problems will get resolved: Which Videos Are Protected? Lawmakers Get a Lesson - New York Times

As the new Congress experiments with the wide world of blogging and video clips, members are learning the complexities of copyright law, much the way the casual YouTube user has learned that there are corporations out there that own “Lost” and can stop you from posting a favorite episode.

The introduction began awkwardly this month when the House Republican Study Committee issued a news release accusing Speaker Nancy Pelosi of “pirating” 16 copyrighted clips of House floor debate from the public affairs network C-Span by including them on her new blog, The Gavel.

[...] The speaker’s spokesman, Brendan Daly, used the opportunity to decry “yet another baseless attack of the Republicans; in this case they have retracted it.”

But last week, as it happens, C-Span did contact the speaker’s office to have it take down a different clip from her blog — one shot by C-Span’s cameras at a House Science and Technology Committee hearing on global warming where Ms. Pelosi testified, Mr. Daly said. (The blog has substituted material filmed by the committee’s cameras, he said.)

C-Span, a private nonprofit company financed by the cable and satellite affiliates that carry its programming, says that over more than 25 years of operating it has consistently asserted its copyright to any material it shoots with its own cameras. But that message can get lost.

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February 26, 2007

“The Sky Is Falling” [8:19 am]

Videos have Net bursting at the seams - pdf

Those amusing YouTube video clips that Internet users send to friends gobble up large chunks of bandwidth and may cause the Net to crash, some elements of the telecom industry warn.

It’s an admonition many dismiss as political posturing intended to dissuade lawmakers from restricting the freedom of phone companies to manage Internet traffic as they wish.

[...] A recent report from Deloitte Consulting raised the possibility that 2007 would see Internet demand exceed capacity. Worldwide, more users every day join the 1 billion people who now use the Internet. Popularity of bandwidth-hungry video makes far greater demands on the network than more basic applications like e-mail, Web browsing or even voice over the Internet.

[...] The Deloitte report, along with comments earlier this month by a Google executive at a technology conference in Amsterdam about Web capacity problems, have been cited as examples why telecom companies shouldn’t face new regulations.

[...] Walter McCormick Jr., chief of US Telecom, the trade group representing dominant phone companies, wrote to lawmakers arguing that the need to manage capacity would be impeded if “network neutrality” legislation passes.

Backed by several consumer groups as well as large Internet enterprises such as Google, network neutrality legislation forbids phone companies from managing the network to favor one Internet user’s content over another’s.

Network managers need flexibility in order to provide needed capacity as demand grows, McCormick contends.

That logic is tortured at best, said Andrew Odlyzko, director of the University of Minnesota’s digital technology center.

“It’s posturing for political reasons,” said Odlyzko. “The telecom industry opposes network neutrality and uses any pretext to fight it.”

[...] Telecom executives focus on possible broadband capacity shortfalls because of their heritage, said David Isenberg, an independent industry analyst who once worked for the Bell System.

“They want to manage the Internet as a scarce resource,” Isenberg said. “Internet executives want to manage it as an abundant resource. It’s a basic philosophical difference.”

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February 24, 2007

Experimentation Continues [10:39 pm]

But, with rhetoric like this, is any real progress being made? Software Exploited by Pirates Goes to Work for Hollywood

On Monday, the company, whose technology unleashed a wave of illegal file-sharing on the Internet, plans to unveil the BitTorrent Entertainment Network on its Web site, BitTorrent.com. The digital media store will offer around 3,000 new and classic movies and thousands more television shows, as well as a thousand PC games and music videos each, all legally available for purchase.

The programming comes from studios, including Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount and Warner Brothers, that previously announced their intention to work with BitTorrent. There is also a new partner: the 83-year-old Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which will take part by making 100 films available on the site from its 4,000-movie library. “Somebody once said you have to embrace your enemy,” said Doug Lee, executive vice president of MGM’s new-media division. “We like the idea that they have millions of users worldwide. That is potentially fertile, legitimate ground for us.”

The BitTorrent store will work slightly differently than rival digital media offerings like the iTunes Store of Apple and the Xbox Live service of Microsoft. BitTorrent will commingle free downloads of users’ own video uploads with sales of professional fare. And while it will sell digital copies of shows like “24” and “Bones” for $1.99 an episode, it will only rent movies. Once the films are on the PC, they expire within 30 days of their purchase or 24 hours after the buyer begins to watch them.

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LATimes Editorial On Alcatel v Microsoft [7:54 am]

Patent problems in patent law - pdf (see this earlier post)

THE PATENT SYSTEM in the United States is so dysfunctional that it can even generate sympathy for Microsoft.

[...] The purpose of patents, like copyrights, is to promote innovation by giving inventors exclusive rights to use and distribute their creations for a limited time. There’s no requirement that a patent holder create products based on the invention; to do so would give big companies an unfair advantage over small players with good ideas. But lately there’s been a trend in the opposite direction: Patent holders stay on the sidelines while large companies build the market for a technology, then the patent holders claim that their rights have been infringed and demand compensation.

[...] The threat posed by this trend is that technology companies will limit their products’ capabilities to minimize unexpected patent claims. That’s the exact opposite of what patent law was designed to do.

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February 23, 2007

A Promising Revenue Stream Shut Down [8:40 am]

Canada: Pornography Service Halted

After a call for a boycott from a Roman Catholic archbishop, hundreds of complaints and one lawsuit from customers, the Canadian phone company Telus abandoned a service that allowed cellphone customers to buy soft-core pornography.

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RIAA Pushing The Boundaries [8:28 am]

RIAA appeals attorneys’ fees award

Throughout its legal attacks on file sharers, the RIAA has argued that the owners of ISP accounts used to share copyrighted material should be held liable, even if they had no knowledge of the alleged infringement. Judge West called the RIAA’s secondary infringement claims “untested and marginal” in his order, a characterization the labels take issue with.

Instead, the plaintiffs argue that if the defendant has “a reason to know” of the infringing activity, she should be held liable. The RIAA also points to Foster’s subscriber agreement with Cox Communications, her ISP, which the RIAA says “expressly required” her to keep others using her account from infringing copyrights.

As others have pointed out, this is one way for the RIAA to quash unprotected wi-fi.

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Plagiarism? Or Commensuration? [8:22 am]

An example of a topic I and others have been working on lately — when does reliance upon metrics to do more than support human judgment happen, and when does it lead us astray? (Note: according to this article, not this time): Too Perfect Harmony - pdf

The alleged hoax, in which the recorded works of pianist Joyce Hatto have been called into question, was uncovered using database software that automatically identifies CDs so that fans don’t have to manually enter artist and track information when they load the music onto their computers. Technology helped enable the alleged trickery; a newer technology uncovered it.

When a reader of the British classical music magazine Gramophone loaded a Hatto disc onto his computer, the database correctly identified it as a performance of a Franz Liszt piano composition — but marked it as a CD recorded by another pianist, Laszlo Simon. The technology behind the CD database, operated by Gracenote, a California company, indexes data on about 4 million CDs. The lengths of tracks on Hatto’s and Simon’s albums were identical, causing the database to make what appeared to be a mistake.

Or was it a mistake? The reader contacted a Gramophone critic, who played the Simon recording on iTunes, compared it to the Hatto recording and found that the two CDs sounded the same. The magazine passed the matter to independent sound engineers, who have concluded that the two versions were, in fact, the same performance. Since then, engineers have found at least a dozen examples of other performances that appear to have been pilfered and issued under Hatto’s name.

[...] Hatto’s recordings were published by her husband, William Barrington-Coupe, on a small British label called Concert Artist. The label has released more than 100 albums under Hatto’s name. Barrington-Coupe yesterday denied any wrongdoing.

[...] Barrington-Coupe said that the findings published on the Web , have started a “culture of fear” among critics in London who are afraid to stand up and defend the Hatto recordings now in dispute. “They’re being told that something is a scientific fact, and they’re no longer believing their ears,” he said.

Hatto died last year at the age of 77 after a long battle with cancer. Although she was largely unknown for most of her career, she won a few champions among critics toward the end of her life. A reviewer for the Boston Globe, for example, called her “the greatest living pianist that almost no one has ever heard of.”

Her illness forced her to give up performing in public decades before she died.

From the earlier NYTimes article: A Pianist’s Recordings Draw Praise, but Were They All Hers?

Looking for scientific evidence of a hoax, Mr. Inverne then sent the Hatto and Simon recordings to Mr. Rose, a former sound engineer for the BBC. Mr. Rose said that the Liszt recordings were easy to identify as those made by Mr. Simon, but that the Nojima recording had been “manipulated” to disguise its origin.

“If all this is true,” Mr. Inverne said, “what strikes me is that this sort of piracy was made possible by technology, and later advances in technology uncovered it.”

He added: “As far as I know, the classical music world has never known a scandal like this. The art world has, but not classical music.”

Later, from the NYTimes OpEd: Shoot the Piano Player; also from Gramophone: ‘I did it for my wife’ – Joyce Hatto exclusive, William Barrington-Coupe confesses - pdf

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So, Who’s Going To Say It First? [8:00 am]

As Larry Lessig repeats, “Software patents — BAD.” How much pain before one of the big holders throws their weight behind this much-needed IP policy reform (remember, software patentability is a construct of the USPTO; all it takes is a piece of legislation to make it go away): MP3 Patents in Upheaval After Verdict

; also the LATimes’ Microsoft loses music patent case (pdf) and the Washington Post’s Microsoft Loses Big In MP3 Patent Suit (pdf).

From the Washington Post article:

The judgment surprised industry experts, who said they had not been following the case closely.

“Most of us thought this was going to go bye-bye,” technology analyst Rob Enderle said. He said he expected Alcatel-Lucent to approach other companies using MP3 technology and use the verdict “like a club” to collect fees.

[...] Alcatel-Lucent and its lawyers would not say whether they plan to target more companies, but Desmarais signaled that others using the audio-file technology could be vulnerable.

“For anyone who implements the standard, the same arguments would apply,” he said.

Hmmm - given that Alcatel-Lucent elected not to join the patent pool, is it possible that they’re the ones who are trying to bring software patents down? Or are they just greedy? And, in either case, isn’t that good for the cause?

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Cory Doctorow on Job’s Manifesto [7:38 am]

In re: Job’s call for DRM-free music, we get Cory’s take — a reminder that DRm has more than one function in the market: Steve Jobs’ iTunes dance

I doubt Jobs’ sincerity. I suspect he likes DRM because it creates an anti-competitive lock-in to Apple. I think he’s trying to shift blame for the much-criticized DRM to the music industry, whose executives are twirling their mustaches and declaring DRM to be the only way forward for their industry.

[...] Although Apple’s DRM is wholly ineffective at preventing copying, it does manage to raise the cost of switching from an iPod to a competing device. Every iTunes song you buy for 99 cents amounts to a 99 cent tax on switching from an iPod to a Zune. That’s because your iTunes songs won’t play on your Zune — or on any other player, save those made or licensed by Apple. Jobs tries to skate around this in his memo, suggesting that only a tiny fraction of the music on iPods comes from his music store, and so the anti-switching effects are minimal.

[...] Jobs is right. If you had 10 grand worth of proprietary music on your iPod, his company’s iTunes would be anti-competitive. But that’s not to say that $150 worth of lock-in (enough to double the cost of many portable players) isn’t a powerful disincentive against switching from the iPod. I’m a lifelong Apple fan boy — I have an actual Mac tattoo — but even I remember the dark time of the Performa, when Apple’s hardware trailed so far behind the market leaders that buying it was like wearing a hair shirt. I think that it’s reasonable to assume that Apple won’t always make the world’s best music player. I’d like to keep my options open. But the longer you own an iPod, the more likely it is you’ll buy more iTunes music, and the fewer options you’ll have.

[...] With DRM, the only way to get music that plays on all your devices, past and present, is to rip it off. If you buy DRM, you end up being part of someone’s business model, and a slave to the lock-in.

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February 22, 2007

Software; Patentable? How Thoroughly? [2:56 pm]

Court Takes on Software Patents - pdf

At issue is whether Microsoft can be held liable for violating an AT&T patent on technology that condenses speech into computer code, similar to that found on Microsoft’s Windows program.

Microsoft admitted it infringed the AT&T patent on computers sold domestically but contends that it is not liable for its programs installed by computer manufacturers overseas.

In 1984, Congress amended the patent law to forbid companies from shipping components of patented inventions overseas and having the parts assembled elsewhere in an attempt to skirt patent laws.

So in this case, justices are looking at whether digital software code can be considered a “component” of a patented invention and if so, whether it was “supplied” from the United States.

[...] The justices wrestled with whether computer code would be patented or whether the code alone could be a component.

[AT&T's lawyer Seth] Waxman said code is “dynamic,” in that it causes a computer to take action, while [Microsoft's lawyer Ted] Olson said it was more like a blueprint. It can be used to produce exact copies that are not patent infringements, he said, like instructions for building a car or a mousetrap.

A copy of the transcript of the oral argument

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Online Activism [8:10 am]

It’s not what you think: Virtual loses its virtues - pdf

LIKE any pioneer, Marshal Cahill arrived in a new world curious and eager to sample its diversions. Over time, though, he saw an elite few grabbing more than their share.

They bought up all the plum real estate. They awarded building contracts to friends. They stifled free speech.

Cahill saw a bleak future, but he felt powerless to stop them. So he detonated an atomic bomb outside an American Apparel outlet. Then another outside a Reebok store.

As political officer for the Second Life Liberation Army, Cahill is passionately committed to righting what he considers the wrongs of a world that exists only on the computer servers of Linden Lab in San Francisco.

[...] In the last year, the number of people who had visited Second Life skyrocketed from 100,000 to 2 million. As the population grows, early denizens are learning the truth of Jean-Paul Sartre’s observation “Hell is other people.”

[...] Cahill and his compatriots say they don’t necessarily mind the new residents, but they want more influence in deciding the future of the virtual world. Most important, they want Linden Lab to allow voting on issues affecting their in-world experience.

“The population of the world should have a say in the running of the world,” Cahill said during an in-world interview. Cahill is this participant’s online name, incidentally. He refused to reveal his real-world name for fear of banishment from Second Life.

So, what are Linden Labs’ responsibilities in this domain? Is ownership a defense? Of course, figuring out exactly what they own is complicated.

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February 21, 2007

Heading Down A Troubling Road [3:39 pm]

Been raised before, but a path that’s still getting consideration: Virtual child porn may be a crime in Netherlands - pdf

Virtual enactments of child pornography may be a crime under Dutch law if it encourages child abuse, the public prosecutor said on Wednesday.

In the virtual world of Second Life, a popular Internet destination, everyone aged under 18 is supposed to be limited to a “teen grid.”

[...] In the adult section, some users participate in “age play,” in which adult users can create child-like characters and have virtual sex that would be illegal in the real world.

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Another Test of Safe Harbors [3:34 pm]

A new copyright battlefield: Veoh Networks

One of the last places you might expect to find copyright violations is on a Web site backed by Time Warner and former Disney CEO Michael Eisner.

Nonetheless, Veoh Networks CEO Dmitry Shapiro acknowledges that only a week after the company’s official debut, Veoh.com is host to a wide range of unauthorized and full-length copies of popular programs. But Shapiro says it’s not his upstart video company’s fault: Blame the people who are posting the material.

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Speaking of Operating at the Point of a Gun … [7:48 am]

AP: Music companies targeting colleges - pdf

Cracking down on college students, the music industry is sending thousands more complaints to top universities this school year than it did last year as it targets music illegally downloaded over campus computer networks.

A few schools, including Ohio and Purdue universities, already have received more than 1,000 complaints accusing individual students since last fall — significant increases over the past school year. For students who are caught, punishments vary from e-mail warnings to semester-long suspensions from classes.

The trade group for the largest music labels, the Recording Industry Association of America, identified at the request of The Associated Press the 25 universities that received the most copyright complaints it sent so far this school year. The trade group long has pressured schools to act more aggressively against online pirates on campus.

[...] The top five schools are Ohio, Purdue, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Tennessee and the University of South Carolina. The RIAA complained about almost 15,000 students at those 25 universities, nearly triple the number for the previous school year.

“They’re trying to make a statement,” said Randall Hall, who polices computers at Michigan State University, seventh on the list with 753 complaints. Michigan State received 432 such complaints in December alone, when students only attended classes for half the month.

Also the WaPo’s variant - pdf

Later: Ars Technica has the list:

  1. Ohio University - 1,287

  2. Purdue University - 1,068
  3. University of Nebraska at Lincoln - 1,002
  4. University of Tennessee at Knoxville - 959
  5. University of South Carolina - 914
  6. University of Massachusetts at Amherst - 897
  7. Michigan State University - 753
  8. Howard University - 572
  9. North Carolina State University - 550
  10. University of Wisconsin at Madison - 513
  11. University of South Florida - 490
  12. Syracuse University - 488
  13. Northern Illinois University - 487
  14. University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire - 473
  15. Boston University - 470
  16. Northern Michigan University - 457
  17. Kent State University - 424
  18. University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - 400
  19. University of Texas at Austin - 371
  20. North Dakota State University - 360
  21. Indiana University - 353
  22. Western Kentucky University - 353
  23. Seton Hall University - 338
  24. Arizona State University - 336
  25. Marshall University - 331

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February 20, 2007

Geist on the IIPA Report [3:43 pm]

US copyright lobby out-of-touch

The International Intellectual Property Alliance, an association that brings together US lobby groups representing the movie, music, software, and publisher industries, last week delivered its annual submission to the US government featuring its views on the inadequacy of intellectual property protection around the world.

The report frequently serves as a blueprint for the US Trade Representative’s Section 301 Report, a government-mandated annual report that carries the threat of trade barriers for countries that fail to meet the US standard of IP protection.

The IIPA submission generated considerable media attention, with the international media focusing on the state of IP protection in Russia and China, while national media in Canada, Thailand, and Taiwan broadcast dire warnings about the consequences of falling on the wrong side of US lobby groups.

While the UK was spared inclusion on this year’s list, what is most noteworthy about the IIPA effort is that dozens of countries - indeed most of the major global economies in the developed and developing world - are singled out for criticism.

[...] Given the US experience [with its implementation of the WIPO Internet Treaties], it is unsurprising that many countries have experimented with alternate implementations.

This experimentation invariably leads to heavy criticism from the IIPA as countries such as Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Switzerland, Hong Kong, South Korea, Israel, Mexico, and India are all taken to task for their implementation (or proposed implementation) of anti-circumvention legislation.

Further, countries that have not signed or ratified the WIPO Internet treaties (which still includes the majority of the world), face the wrath of the US lobby group for failing to do so.

Second, in a classic case of “do what I say, not what I do”, many countries are criticised for copyright laws that bear a striking similarity to US law. For example, Israel is criticised for considering a fair use provision that mirrors the US approach.

The IIPA is unhappy with the attempt to follow the US model, warning that the Israeli public might view it as a “free ticket to copy.” Similarly, the time shifting provisions in New Zealand’s current copyright reform bill (which would permit video recording of television shows) are criticised despite the fact that US law has granted even more liberal copying rights for decades.

The most disturbing illustration of this double standard is the IIPA’s criticism of compulsory copyright licensing requirements.

[...] Third, the IIPA recommendations criticise dozens of efforts to support national education, privacy, and cultural initiatives.

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A Spectrum Policy Fight in the UK [3:37 pm]

Over radio microphones: Spectrum plan threatens radio mic

The future of radio microphones - used at concerts, sporting events, festivals and theatre shows - is under threat from new proposals from Ofcom.

The media regulator is considering auctioning off the spectrum they operate on to the highest bidder, as part of the digital switchover.

Ofcom argues that putting spectrum on the open market is the only way to make sure it is used to its full potential.

Critics say that the spectrum crucial to radio mics needs to be ring-fenced.

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Some Pending Sausage-Making [8:34 am]

Watching the FCC and others decide what constitutes competition, markets and monopolies should be quite a show: Satellite radio competitors agree to merge - pdf

“If the market is defined just as satellite radio, they would never approve the only two companies merging into one — that would be like Pepsi merging with Coke,” said Howard Liberman, a Washington lawyer and former Federal Communications Commission staff attorney.

But Sirius and XM, he said, will attempt to define the industry as “music that goes into your ear,” including portable music players and AM and FM radio.

[...] FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin said Monday that he expected the deal to face a “high” hurdle with his agency. In setting rules for satellite radio service in 1997, the FCC granted only two licenses and stipulated that one of the holders would “not be permitted to acquire control of the other” — to “help assure sufficient continuing competition.”

“The companies would need to demonstrate that consumers would clearly be better off with both more choice and affordable prices,” Martin said.

[...] Analysts said they suspected Sirius and XM were trying to get the FCC to consider the deal before the 2008 presidential election, when control might swing back to the Democrats. The FCC is considering allowing more media consolidation, which Democrats on the panel and in the new congressional majority oppose.

Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), chairman of the House subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, said Monday that the radio merger “merits the utmost scrutiny” by policymakers and regulators in light of “dramatic consolidation” of traditional radio.

Traditional radio firms immediately opposed the merger.

See also Merger Would End Satellite Radio’s Rivalry and Satellite Radio Firms Plan To Merge (pdf)

Later: Handicapping the fight: Shift on Antitrust Issues May Aid Sirius-XM Deal and A matter of competition (pdf)

An opinion from the WaPo - They Fuse, You Lose; pdf

Now, XM and Sirius suggest that wireless broadband will keep them honest; customers turned off by both FM and satellite radio will be able to listen to music sent through their cellphones.

But most wireless carriers impose grotesque limits on what you can listen to or watch on a phone: Listening to a Web radio station on a phone’s Internet connection violates most of their contracts. This isn’t bringing the diversity of Internet radio to cellphones — it’s recreating the controlled universe of cable TV. And it’s unlikely to offer much of a meaningful alternative to dissatisfied listeners.

It’s too soon to know what the government will do with the XM-Sirius merger proposal. But by not addressing these underlying problems, Washington isn’t just approving telecom monopolies, it’s aiding and abetting them.

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It’s Not Just The Military Anymore [8:29 am]

Video gaming apparently builds all sorts of skills: From video gamer to surgery ace? It could happen, study suggests - pdf

New research released Monday found that surgeons with the highest scores on “Super Monkey Ball 2,” “Star Wars Racer Revenge” and “Silent Scope” performed best on tests of suturing and laparoscopic surgery.

Doctors who reported having played video games at least three hours a week sometime in their past worked 27% faster and made 37% fewer errors on the surgical tasks compared with those who had never picked up a game controller, according to the study in the Archives of Surgery.

“For as little as three hours a week, you could help your children become the cyber-surgeons of the 21st century,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. James C. Rosser Jr. of Beth Israel Medical Center in New York.

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