WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission's planned Twitter town hall on the upcoming set-top box proposal, featuring Gigi Sohn, counselor to FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, was abruptly cancelled five minutes before its 3 p.m. start time Tuesday (Feb. 16).
Turns out there were issues with the sunshine rules, which prevent discussion of items up for vote in a public meeting for seven days prior. The FCC is voting Feb. 18 on the set-top proposal.
"Due to FCC Sunshine Rule implications, we regret that we must postpone today’s Twitter Town Hall with Gigi Sohn and Alex Nogales," an FCC spokesperson said. "We will reschedule for a later date..."
Sohn was to have been joined by National Hispanic Media Coalition President Alex Nogales to talk about, among other things, the purported benefits to diverse programming of the proposal.
The hashtag associated with the town hall, #unlockthebox, featured a series of tweets by Wheeler in advance of the cancelled event (the hashtag was created at the time the proposal was announced), so at least he got to weigh in.
Wheeler's web stream of set-top consciousness, all retweeted by Sohn, went as follows:
"Big week as the Commission votes on my proposal to create more competition in the set-top box and app market.
"Today, there is limited competition in set-top boxes. When competition exists, prices go down and innovation goes up.
"Congress mandated that consumers should have options. But for 20 yrs since that mandate, they haven’t. I want to fix that.
"We want to obey the law that says consumers must have choices to access programming & create opportunity for competition.
"What happens after that? That’s for the market and good old, all-American competition to decide."
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.