- Merger Enforcement: In connection with its approval of the AT&T/DIRECTV merger, in order to “ensure compliance with the conditions it imposed, the Commission required AT&T to retain an independent, external compliance officer to monitor and report to the Commission on compliance. In his partial dissent, Commissioner Pai said there “is no justification for the Commission to adopt this extraordinary condition” and that it “establishes a dangerous precedent” in that “virtually any transaction” before the FCC could now result in a “Commission-selected solon with vast powers.” The Commission also indicated that material noncompliance with the Fiber to the Premises Deployment condition will result in extension of all of the conditions until completion of the required buildout.
- Wi-Fi Deauthentication: The Enforcement Bureau entered into a $750,000 Consent Decree with a company that used deauthentication to prevent use of alternate Wi-Fi systems in connection with its management of Wi- Fi at convention venues. The Bureau had previously entered into a $600,000 Consent Decree with a major hotel company for similar behavior, which the Bureau describes as “Wi-Fi Blocking.” Neither Consent Decree included an admission of liability. The Enforcement Bureau’s interpretation that Wi-Fi systems are “radio stations” under the Communications Act and thus protected by Section 333’s ban on malicious or willful interference could raise some novel regulatory issues, particularly if the Commission or other FCC bureaus and offices ultimately agree with the Enforcement Bureau’s interpretation.
- Class A TV: The Commission entered into a $30,000 Consent Decree with a Class A television licensee terminating a proceeding to consider downgrading the license from Class A to low power status for having been off the air for an extended period of time and also settling public inspection file issues. This Consent Decree (arising from a Media Bureau matter) included a “voluntary contribution” rather than a “penalty” or “civil fine.” Also, while it did include an admission, unlike most Enforcement Bureau Consent Decrees, it did not include a compliance plan. The Commission also agreed to renew the Class A license.
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