I have a much more complete write up on the resolution of the Adelphia transaction and what it may mean in the long run on my regular blog here. To condense that to points relevant here and comparing to my post last Wednesday:
1) The FCC failed to adopt a network neutrality condition. Commissioner Copps dissented in full from grant of the merger, while Commissioner Adelstien dissented from the failure to adopt a network neutrality condition but otherwise concurred in the order.
In addition, Copps called for the FCC to add a “fifth principle” to the four broadband principles adopted last year. This fifth principle would prohibit tiering or other discrimination based on source or content, while permitting approriate network management. Adelstien, in his dissenting section, also endorsed this proposed principle.
The FCC's failure to adopt a network neutrality principle does not augur well for adoption of such a principle in the AT&T/BellSouth merger. Chariman Martin's position, spelled out in his separate statement, acknowledges that there is a great deal of controversy about NN, but that he feels they have the power to enforce the existing principles if the FCC finds evidence of real harms.
2) Appropos of this, however, it is worth noting that FCC enforcement staff came in for quite the tongue lashing for their failue to enforce existing law against cable operators using their market power in violation of the 1992 Cable Act. How on Earth can people trust that the FCC staff will enforce the broadband “four principles” when it can't even manage to enforce laws passed by Congress?
3) The Commission did express a lot of interest in “leased access,” a provision of the Cable Act (codified in Section 612 of the Communications Act, as amended) that requires cable operators to lease channels to independent programmers. This may provide a new venue for programmers to get around the cable bottleneck and promote more diverse viewpoints in video programming. We will need to see how this plays out in the comming months.
4) The FCC withdrew the digital audio broadcast (digital radio) item from the agenda. It is not clear why. It may be that the last minute negotiations over Adelphia prevented the Commissioners from reaching final agreement on the DAB item. In that case, the Commission may release it “on circulation” after the Commissioners vote on it (The FCC does not have to wait for an open meeting to vote on an item). Otherwise, Martin can put it back on the agenda for the August meeting and force a vote.