The FCC's streamed virtual public meeting ran into big technical difficulties Wednesday (Sept. 30).
At press time, it had been paused due to issues with viewers not being able to watch the virtual proceedings. Sunshine rules require the meetings be public so with that public only having access through the internet, a working virtual view of the proceedings is likely required by the Sunshine Act, though the commissioner statements and votes did continue to be trackable via the online captioning, so the votes could at least be viewed in text scrawl even while the video was locked up.
That followed earlier issues with Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel's online access from home.
"There have been some issues watching on the live stream," he said, "so we're going to pause for a couple of minutes while they iron out some of those kinks. So, everybody, if you can just hang tight, we will be back in a second."
At press time it had been more than a second and more than a couple of minutes with the stream showing only placeholder initials for the windows ususally occupied by the commissioners.
"Thanks everybody on the call for your understanding," Pai said. "It's the nature of the beast."
The following is the exchange after the chairman's above statement, as recorded on closed captioning:
JOSH: WE ARE ATTEMPTING TO MOVE TO A SECONDARY STREAM. I'M NOT SURE THAT WE ARE GOING TO BE ABLE TO GET THE LIVESTREAM BACK UP AGAIN. WE ARE ABLE TO RECORD THE MEETING. WE WILL ATTEMPT ONE MORE TIME. APPARENTLY COMCAST IS UPGRADING MY SERVICE AND I'M DESPERATELY TRYING TO RECYCLE THE MODEM SO IT RECOGNIZES IT. RIGHT NOW I AM NOT GETTING CONNECTIVITY THROUGH TO YOUTUBE. STEVE IS RUNNING INTO ISSUES GETTING THROUGH. IF YOU WILL BEAR WITH ME, IT IS UP TO USA HOW TO CONDUCT THE MEETING. I'M AT A LOSS FOR ANOTHER WAY OF GETTING THIS TO YOUTUBE AT THE MOMENT.
CHAIRMAN PAI: TOM JOHNSON, ARE YOU THERE?
TOM: I AM, I JUST WROTE MY TEAM. I'M NOT SURE WE CAN RECORD IT WITHOUT ANY OPPORTUNITY FOR PUBLIC VIEWING. THAT IS WHAT I WANT TO CONFIRM BEFORE WE DO THAT.
CHAIRMAN PAI: THAT WAS MY FIRST QUESTION. DOES IT PERMIT US TO RECORD SOMETHING THAT IS NOT LIVE. ?
>> IS THERE WAY WE COULD DO THIS OVER AND AUDIO CHANNEL CONSISTENT WITH THE WAY WE DID IN MARCH OR APRIL?
JOSH: THE CONNECTION TO THE YOUTUBE CHANNEL, WE DON'T HAVE A WAY OF GETTING ANYTHING TO THE PUBLIC FOR THEM TO VIEW OR LISTEN TO. LET ME MU MYSELF. I WILL BE TALKING WITH STEVE FOR A MOMENT.
CHAIRMAN PAI: I GUESS WE COULD CIRCULATE AN AD HOC NOTICE.
I ALSO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT WE COULD PROBABLY DO THESE ON CIRCULATION.
WE WERE MAKING SUCH GOOD TIME. LET ME SEE. THE ME SEE WHAT WE COULD DO.
JEFF: THIS IS A TEST. THIS IS A TEST. CHECK 1, 2, 3. CHECK 1, 2, 3. CHECK 1, 2, 3. TEST 1, 2, THREE. CHECK 1, 2, 3.
After a break of about a half-hour, the meeting resumed online, with the thanks of Pai for the work of the staff to make it so.
Pai called for a re-vote of the cable retrans notice item then continued with the agenda.
Asked if the issue was too many people on the stream, a spokesperson for FCC Chairman Ajit Pai would only say "technical difficulties."
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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.