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Colorado’s High on Layer3 TV, Restoring Some Cable Cachet

Comcast has about a 22 million video-subscriber lead over Layer3 TV, but the two companies are even-Steven according to readers of a Colorado-based business magazine.

Comcast and Layer3 TV, a stealthy startup that’s billing itself as a “next-generation” cable company, were named runners-up in ColoradoBiz’s inagural “Best of Colorado–Readers’ Choice” supplement in the Best Telecom Equipment and Service Category. Both could still do better, as CenturyLink and Verizon Wireless shared the category’s top honor, selected through an online voting process run by a third-party research firm called DataJoe.

But the kudos serve as another heaping of local recognition on Layer3 TV, which opened its Denver headquarters just last fall on the eighth floor of an 11-story building at 1660 Wynkoop St. that’s tucked in the city’s hip LoDo district near Union Station, Coors Field and a light rail station.

It also writes another chapter in an apparent love affair between Layer3 TV and Colorado, once known as the cable capital of the world.

In addition to bringing some cool cachet to the Mile High City, the IP-video startup has also pledged to bring more than 300 new jobs into the area, with an average wage of $92,083 (it’s approaching 100 employees companywide). In support of its expansion plans and corporate relocation (from Boston), Colorado also awarded Layer3 TV $2.9 million in job-growth incentive tax credits and workforce development and technical assistance. Layer3 TV was also one of the companies featured last fall in a campaign video from Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

For its workers, Layer3 TV is also infusing some Silicon Valley style into its culture — letting them work off some steam in a game area that features a ping pong table and access to a fully-stocked kitchen, and providing an open floor plan that’s designed to cultivate collaboration. The Wire has also learned that the company is known to sponsor outings to LoDo-area eateries, including wing nights and pizza nights.

Layer3 TV also has a “green” tinge to it, thanks to a new sustainable environment policy that promotes recycling and a bike-share program.

But local recognition will only get the startup so far. Layer3 TV, which has raised more than $80 million, is in the process of developing a service that will bring revenue in the door. It’s still being coy about its specific plan and strategy, but has said it is on track to launch its service by late this summer.

— Jeff Baumgartner

TWC News Nets Had Upstate N.Y. Jailbreak Covered

The June 28 capture of David Sweat, after the police killing of Richard Matt, ended a frantic period for Time Warner Cable News regional coverage in upstate New York. The pair, you doubtless know, escaped from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y., and the search for them over three weeks led police on a wild chase that ended less than two miles from the Canadian border.

Anthony Proia, senior director of news operations for TWC, said reporters canceled vacations and worked, in some cases, around the clock pursuing stories and providing hours of live coverage of what New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo deemed a crisis situation.

Remote areas without cellphone coverage, and roads crowded with police vehicles and checkpoints, posed challenges, Proia said. But local ties helped reporters such as Alexa Green score exclusives, notably an interview with Sweat’s mother, Pamela, of Binghamton, N.Y., after her son’s capture. (Sweat’s mom said her son wouldn’t dare come to Binghamton because “I would have knocked him out and had them guys take him to jail by themselves.”)

Other notables included anchor Solomon Syed, who canceled his vacation and anchored hours of live coverage; Watertown, N.Y.-based reporter Brian Dwyer; and Geoff Reddick, Proia said. He was preparing a communiqué to the staff to get some rest before the next big news breaks.

— Kent Gibbons

Supreme Irony as Thomas Rips Into ‘Chevron’ Deference

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is no fan of the Chevron defense precedent for review of regulatory actions, a deference that has benefited the Federal Communications Commission in challenges to its rules. He took aim at the practice in a concurring opinion last week in the case of Michigan vs. EPA, suggesting the high court might have established its own unconstitutional precedent.

In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency should have considered the cost impact of new regulations before proposing them. The EPA asked the court to defer to its interpretation of the phrase “appropriate and necessary.” The court said no.

Chevron is the legal theory that, when a statute is ambiguous, the court gives the benefit of the doubt to regulatory agencies’ interpretation, given their subject-matter expertise.

Thomas wrote the opinion in the 2005 Brand X case that upheld the FCC’s decision that cable broadband was an information service — a decision the FCC has since prominently reversed. In doing so, Thomas had followed the court’s precedent in Chevron.

But last week he ripped into that precedent, questioning the constitutionality of deferring to agencies and liberally borrowing from Brand X to illustrate his point. “Interpreting federal statutes — including ambiguous ones administered by an agency — ‘calls for that exercise of independent judgment,’ ” Thomas said. “Chevron deference precludes judges from exercising that judgment, forcing them to abandon what they believe is ‘the best reading of an ambiguous statute’ in favor of an agency’s construction,” he said.

That, he said, runs into separation of powers issues. Twice, actually.

One way to look at it is that a federal agency is engaging in judicial interpretation, which is the province of the courts.

But Thomas said it is even clearer that what the Chevron precedent is giving agencies is legislative power. “If we give the ‘force of law’ to agency pronouncements on matters of private conduct as to which ‘Congress did not actually have an intent,’ ” he said, “we permit a body other than Congress to perform a function that requires an exercise of the legislative power.”

Thomas said a number of cases, including his own following of Chevron deference in Brand X, “brings into bold relief the scope of the potentially unconstitutional delegations we have come to countenance in the name of Chevron deference.”

— John Eggerton