Washington Watch

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Powell Applauds Highway Conduit Bill

WASHINGTON — In his first public statement as
National Cable & Telecommunications Association
president, Michael Powell gave a shout-out to
a new bill that would
require federal highway
projects to include
cable conduits as a
matter of law. “We
look forward to working
with the Rep. [Anna]
Eshoo [D-Calif., the
bill’s author] and other
policymakers on creative
solutions to lower
the cost of broadband
deployment so that every American can benefit
from this important service,” he said.

Sprint Challenges AT&T/T-Mobile in W. Va.

launched a campaign
to challenge
the merger of AT&T
and T-Mobile before
state public-utility
commissions, beginning
with West Virginia, but promising to extend
that to other states. It argues the deal is not in
consumers’ interest because it limits competition
and could raise prices.

“We’re confident West Virginians will see
Sprint’s filing for what it is — a cynical effort to
hurt a competitor,” said AT&T in response, “even
if the ones truly hurt are the many people of West
Virginia who would be denied the fast mobile Internet
speeds they need and want.” AT&T has billed
the deal as advancing the Obama administration’s
goal of deploying high-speed mobile broadband.

Holder Defends Justice’s NBCU Review

WASHINGTON Attorney General Eric Holder defended
the Justice Department’s review of the
Comcast-NBC Universal merger, in which it did not
block the joint-venture deal or force divestitures.

In a Hill oversight hearing, he said the review was
“appropriately aggressive,”
that the
conditions were
“not insignifi cant”
and that Justice
was applying the
law and not looking
for ways to approve
deals. That came
in response to
complaints from
Comcast critic Rep.
Maxine Waters (DCalif.)
that Justice
appeared to be rubber-stamping deals or regulating
by condition.