Shelly Palmer

WGA – Yahoo! – Congress – Microsoft – Senators – MediaBytes February 13, 2008

THE STRIKE is officially over. WGA members voted to return to work today and contract ratification is expected to conclude on February 26th. Next up: SAG contracts expire in June.

YAHOO confirmed its rumored $160 million acquisition of Maven Networks and its online video ad platform. Meanwhile, both TechCrunch and Silicon Alley Insider are reporting that Yahoo has been meeting with News Corp in “marathon sessions” over an arrangement that would help avoid a Microsoft takeover. The deal includes a plan to outsource search advertising duties to Google. However, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Google has lost interest in such an arrangement, fearing regulatory scrutiny. Takeover or no takeover, Yahoo’s 1,000-employee reduction has begun.

CONGRESS saw the introduction of the Internet Freedom Preservation Act, which seeks to enforce net neutrality. The bill would give the FCC the power to ensure that Internet service providers treat all traffic equally. Meanwhile, Comcast defended its right to throttle connections to file-sharing services in formal comments issued to the FCC, saying the the practice is necessary to keep a small minority of users from slowing down the entire network.

MICROSOFT supplied FCC engineers with prototypes to test the viability of using the “white space” spectrum between channels for wireless broadband. The device broke down on two consecutive days of testing last week. Last summer, Microsoft supplied an earlier device for testing white space use. That one broke down too. Microsoft is “not exactly sure” what the problem is – but the failures are casting doubt on the white space initiative.

SENATORS have sent a letter to George Bush asking him to create a special DTV transition task force headed by Kevin Martin, claiming that consumers don’t yet understand that analog TV will stop working on February 17, 2009. In related news, Democrats in the House of Representatives are urging the NTIA to extend the life of digital-to-analog converter coupons. The coupons currently expire after three months.