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Esbin to Draft FCC's ITV Report

Newport, R.I. -- Barbara Esbin, who returned to the Federal Communications
Commission's Cable Services Bureau this week, has been assigned the job of
drafting the agency's report on interactive television, agency officials said
here Tuesday.

The FCC is studying whether cable operators should be barred from favoring
their interactive-TV affiliates over unaffiliated interactive-TV providers.

Viacom Inc. and The Walt Disney Co. are pressing the FCC to impose
nondiscrimination rules on cable operators that are vertically integrated with
interactive-TV companies. Enron Broadband Services wants the nondiscrimination
rules to apply to call cable operators, whether or not they have interactive-TV
affiliates.

In January, the FCC launched the interactive-TV notice of inquiry -- a
regulatory step one away from a rulemaking -- as a byproduct of the merger
between America Online Inc. and Time Warner Inc.

Esbin left the CSB a few years ago after drafting a white paper on the FCC's
treatment of data services over telecommunications facilities and possible
regulatory classifications of cable-provided Internet services. She rejoined the
agency as associate CSB chief from law firm Dow, Lohnes & Albertson.

The FCC is also studying whether cable operators should provide access to
unaffiliated Internet-service providers. Sarah Whitesell, also an associate CSB
chief, is quarterbacking the commission's draft of that report. Whitesell was
most recently common-carrier adviser to commissioner Gloria
Tristani.