Thursday, December 7, 2006

FCC General Counsel Clears McDowell to Vote in AT&T/BellSouth Proceeding

The General Counsel of the FCC cleared Commissioner Robert McDowell from any conflict of interest concern that might otherwise have prevented him from voting on the AT&T/BellSouth merger proceeding.

McDowell previously served as Senior Vice President and Assistant General Counsel for the Competitive Telecommunications Association (CompTel), an organization which has opposed the pending merger. Initially, McDowell had recused himself from voting on the merger.

In October, the FCC postponed a vote on the AT&T + BellSouth merger, as the Democrat commissioners sought concessions from the companies, while the two Republican commissioners sought a quick approval of the transaction.

The FCC's General Counsel said that it has the authority to permit an commission employee to participate in a particular matter that might otherwise raise the issue of impartiality, based on the determination that "the interest of the Government in the employee's participation outweighs the concern that a reasonable person may question the integrity of the agency's programs and operations."

AMC-18 Successfully Launched

SES AMERICOM's AMC-18 satellite was successfully launched from Kourou, French Guiana aboard an Ariane 5 launch vehicle provided by Arianespace. Signal acquisition was confirmed from Lockheed Martin's satellite tracking station in Uralla, Australia.

AMC-18, which was built by Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems (LMCSS), is an advanced C-band satellite that carries twenty-four 36 MHz C-band transponders for providing cable programming and broadcast services to the 50 United States and the Caribbean. It will become the third satellite in SES Americom's HD-PRIME neighborhood, joining AMC-10 and AMC-11, which are near capacity.

Lockheed Martin is currently building AMC-14, which is scheduled to be launched in 2007.
  • In November, SES AMERICOM announced that its IP-PRIME service is now carrying 290 TV channels. The latest programmers to join IP-PRIME represent 80 television channels and more than 90 music audio channels, with the complete MTV Networks lineup. The service originates from the IP-PRIME IPTV Broadcast Center based in Vernon Valley, New Jersey, where video and audio programming is received, processed, and then securely transported nationwide over the AMC-9 satellite to authorized video hubs and consumer set top boxes.