Skip Navigation

Close and don't show again.

Your browser is out of date.

You may not get the full experience here on National Journal.

Please upgrade your browser to any of the following supported browsers:

Jay Rockefeller Wants to Revolutionize the Way You Watch TV Jay Rockefeller Wants to Revolutionize the Way You Watch TV

This ad will end in seconds
Close X

Want access to this content? Learn More »

Forget Your Password?

Don't have an account? Register »

Reveal Navigation


Jay Rockefeller Wants to Revolutionize the Way You Watch TV

By Laura Ryan (@NJLJRyan), with help from Alex Brown (@AlexBrownNJ), Brendan Sasso (@BrendanSasso), and Dustin Volz (@dnvolz)


TODAY'S TOP PARAGRAPH: Sen. Jay Rockefeller may be on his way out, but he wants to disrupt the TV industry first. The House Oversight Committee is holding a hearing on FTC overreach. The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board will review Executive Order 12333. And President Obama plans to issue an executive order on drones.


ROCKEFELLER'S ONLINE VIDEO LEGACY: Sen. Jay Rockefeller is getting ready to settle into retirement. But before he does, he'd like to upend the entire television industry.

Although his ambitious gambit is unlikely to pay off in the final few months of his 30-year career, it could lay the groundwork for future congressional action that could change the way Americans watch TV. Rockefeller's goal is to boost online video services like Netflix to allow them to become full-fledged competitors to cable giants like Comcast. (Sasso)


...WHAT WILL HIS STELA BILL LOOK LIKE?: Asked about negotiations on the satellite TV law STELA, Sen. John Thune said Rockefeller "recognizes some of the limitations that we have right now just from a time standpoint."

Thune said aides are still "batting around ideas" but that many of the provisions in Rockefeller's online-video bill would be a "heavy lift" in the waning weeks of the Congress. The South Dakota Republican was reluctant to discuss specifics, but he said the language in the House version of STELA is "in play" in the Senate, as well as some broader regulatory changes.

"My guess is that [online video] is something that we probably will discuss a lot, but probably in the context of a bigger telecom reauthorization," Thune said. "It'll be interesting to see if someone picks that mantle up."

HOUSE OVERSIGHT PUTS FTC UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT: House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa is holding a hearing today on Federal Trade Commission overreach, focusing on the agency's investigation of the medical testing company LabMD's data security practices. Issa says the FTC's investigation was based on evidence that may have been false.


... BUT ROCKEFELLER COMES TO FTC'S DEFENSE: Rockefeller said in a letter Wednesday that Issa's actions are "undermining due process" by "inappropriately" acting on behalf of LabMD. He added that the House's time would be better spent passing "meaningful" data-security legislation. A spokesman for Issa said that Rockefeller was "completely distorting the committee's work."

PCLOB TO BEGIN REVIEW OF EXECUTIVE ORDER 12333: The government's independent privacy watchdog said Wednesday it would begin a review of Executive Order 12333, which many NSA surveillance skeptics have long suggested may grant more spying powers than either Section 215 of the Patriot Act or Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The order, enacted by President Reagan in 1981, allows the NSA to collect foreign intelligence without a warrant—and "incidentally" scoop up communications data of Americans. It has been only nominally updated since its creation.

But questions remain as to just how comprehensive a review of 12333 can be precisely because of how vast it is. "It's sprawling. It authorizes all sorts of intelligence collection," said Gregory Nojeim of the Center for Democracy & Technology. Privacy advocates are also still stinging from the Board's 702 report from earlier this month, which deemed the NSA's methods under the statute to be legal and effective.

Don't Miss Today's Top Stories

Love it - first thing I read in the morning."

Amy, VP of Communications

I read the Tech Edge every morning."

Ashley, Senior Media Associate

Sign up form for the newsletter

Board Chairman David Medine said he had no timetable for when a 12333 review may be finished, but he gave "six months to a year" as a ballpark range.

UPTON AND WALDEN CRITICIZE FCC'S "ROTTEN" FAVORITISM: House Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden are not pleased with a Bloomberg report that the FCC granted a waiver from auction rules to a firm owned by a top Obama donor. The Republicans said in a statement Wednesday that "something smells rotten." Upton and Walden accused the FCC of "circumventing" the commission processes to give the company a leg up in an upcoming spectrum auction.

AT&T WINS STATE APPROVAL FOR DIRECTV DEAL: During its quarterly earnings call Wednesday, AT&T revealed that it had received approval at the state level to buy DirecTV without any conditions. Brazil's antitrust regulator has also approved the deal, AT&T said. The FCC and Justice Department are still investigating.


EXECUTIVE ORDER ON DRONES IN THE WORKS: President Obama plans to issue an executive order to develop privacy guidelines for commercial drones (Mershon/ Robillard, Politico)

SENATE PLANS SHORT-TERM INTERNET-TAX MORATORIUM EXTENSION: Majority Leader Harry Reid reportedly plans to move a temporary extension to the Internet-access tax ban in September that would last only through early 2015—and not be bundled to a controversial proposal to allow states to collect online sales taxes. The House earlier this month passed a bill that would make the moratorium permanent. (Niels Lesniewski, Roll Call)

FCC GETS SERIOUS ABOUT ENFORCING LAST-STANDING NET-NEUTRALITY RULE: The agency threatens to crack down on Internet providers who lie about speed. (Ryan, NJ)

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOUR CAR GETS HACKED?: As cars get more and more connected, they'll also get more vulnerable to hackers—and no one's sure just how much they can control if they hack your vehicle. (Brown, NJ)

LET ME GOOGLE THAT FOR YOU—NOW IN BILL FORM: A plan by Sens. Tom Coburn and Claire McCaskill would eliminate a small, document-storing branch of the Commerce Department, which they say has been made obsolete by search engines. (Brown, NJ)

STATES WOULD SUE TO KILL INTERNET SERVICE: A group representing state legislatures is threatening to sue the FCC if it tries to preempt state laws restricting municipal broadband networks. (Sasso, NJ)

NET-NEUTRALITY PROTESTS GREET OBAMA IN SILICON VALLEY: The president paid a visit to Silicon Valley to raise money for the Democratic Party. One protester's sign read, "Stop cable company f-&:39$! ery," according to a pool report. (Joe Garofoli, SFGate)

THE IPHONE MAKES AS MUCH MONEY AS AMAZON: Its $20B in sales is also as much as McDonald's and Coca-Cola combined. (Jordan Weissmann, Slate)

TWITTER IS 30 PERCENT FEMALE: Twitter released its diversity numbers, and it's as bad as the the others. (Brian Womack, Bloomberg)

CLASS-ACTION SUIT AGAINST APPLE COULD AFFECT 20K CALIFORNIA EMPLOYEES: Plaintiffs say breaks were not provided as required by law, and final paychecks were not always distributed on time. (Ingrid Lunden, TechCrunch)

HACKERS MAKE OFF WITH THOUSANDS OF STOLEN STUBHUB TICKETS: Cybercriminals hacked more than 1,000 StubHub accounts, purchasing tickets to concerts and sporting events. (AP)


  • The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will hold a hearing on the FTC at 9:30 a.m.
  • FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai will speak at an Internet Innovation Alliance event on net neutrality at 10 a.m.
  • The House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee will hold a hearing on three bills—the Anti-Spoofing Act, the LPTV and Translator Act, and the E-LABEL Act—at 10:15 a.m.
  • The National Telecommunications and Information Administration will hold its latest meeting on facial recognition technology at 1:00 p.m.
  • The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on copyright policy at 1:30 p.m.

Don't Miss Today's Top Stories

Love it - first thing I read in the morning."

Amy, VP of Communications

I read the Tech Edge every morning."

Ashley, Senior Media Associate

Sign up form for the newsletter