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Groups Ask FCC to Stop Clock on Verizon/Cable Spectrum Deal

Sprint/Nextel, DirecTV, and public advocacy groups critical
of the proposed sale of cable spectrum to Verizon have joined with the
Communications Workers of America to ask the FCC to stop the clock on its
merger review, citing software problems with opening some of the documents
filed by Verizon and cable ops.

"The Commission has taken significant steps toward
making its process transparent by allowing authorized personnel to review and
analyze the documentation that it has required from the Applicants," they
say in a letter to the commission dated April 24. "Now, considering the
delays in receiving data and the technical challenges involved, the Commission
should take the further step of giving reviewers the additional time that is
necessary to study the documents and data and respond to the Commission with
cogent analysis."

They say that some files can't be opened with software
"commonly used by law firms" while the charges the applicants are
levying for, paper copies and electronic media (they says $2,124.39 to date)
make it hard for some organizations representing the public interest to review
the documents. They do not cite examples, but Media Access Project, one of the
public advocacy groups signed on to the letter, is scheduled to close its doors
at the end of this month due to lack of funds.

They do not say how long a delay they want, but long enough
"to ensure a meaningful opportunity for review of the relevant materials
and the preparation of insightful comment on these transformative

The FCC is currently on day 96 of its review of the deal,
but the clock is informal, and the commission has often gone far beyond the
180-day target.