CES Update 4
CES Update 4
CES Update 4

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    Well, here's the hot story — Tom Cruise was hanging around in Entourage star Jeremy Piven's bathroom. But more on that in a moment.

    In other news, and there wasn't that much, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said he drew a distinction between content shifted around a home network, and content shift outside, also known as piracy. In his Q&A with CEA Pres. Gary Shapiro, Martin endorsed allowing consumers to have some control over the music and other material they purchase.

    Martin didn't elaborate on the crucial question of how that distinction should be made, such as does the “home” also extend to your PSP in your car, or how content should be treated differently to make sure it stays in the approved environment, but not into the non-approved sectors. In the unofficial gaggle Q&A with reporters (and other interested observers) following the event, Martin elaborated only to say that the content protection issue should be viewed in the context as a balance between the needs of consumers and the needs of content providers.

    In asking Congress to give the Commission authority to reimpose the overturned broadcast flag (and we all know who brought the case that led to said overturning), Martin said he asked for authority over digital TV and digital radio because they are versions of Internet Protocol-based services and as such are sufficiently alike.

    He declined to say exactly what the FCC would do with any new authority, saying the decision over jurisdiction was now in other hands, that is, with Congress.

    Martin also spoke at length on net neutrality and defended the FCC's decision to have only principles enforcing the concept, not actual rules. Martin said consumers should have the ability to access any content, and service providers have the right to sell differentiated services. He said he didn't want to do a formal rulemaking in the absence of any evidence of blockage.

    However, Martin didn't directly answer the question about the network side of net neutrality — whether service providers can cut deals with network operators to have higher speeds than other similar providers. The WSJ had a good lead story on that today. He said one factor to be considered in the issue included consumer experience and expectations for the “baseline of access” that consumers now experience and went back to his baseline argument in favor of product differentiation on the consumer side.

    And now to our top story. In the battle of the stars going on here, it was Yahoo! which brought out Cruise as Chairman Terry Semel exploited his Hollywood connections and they schmoozed about the glories of Yahoo! and, not coincidentally, showed a trailer for Cruise's new Mission: Impossible 3 flick coming out in May. Showed it twice in fact, responding to audience demand.

    After the sessions, Cruise went out to the Yahoo! hut in the Convention Center parking lot. Among the little house on the asphalt's features is a bathroom equipped with video-display-enabled mirrors. The bathroom is a copy of one owned in real life by Jeremy Piven, one of the Entourage stars. We saw him the other night, looking quite scruffy but still recognizable. Yahoo! announced a bunch of new mobile apps in conjunction with Cingular-ATT allowing users who pay the additional cost of wireless broadband to check Yahoo! mail and other Yahoo! features.

    Ellen DeGeneres did a few minutes of stand-up during the Yahoo! presentation. Noting the presence of the adult video convention at the Sands going on now, she said that the difference between that one and CES is that at CES, the emphasis is on making things smaller.

    Larry Page from Google speaks later, and if says anything of interest or import, we'll let you know.

    You've been a lovely audience.