EXCLUSIVE: Tropicana Covers Election Day Twittering

There are a couple of election related Twitter projects going on including Twitter Vote Report, which we covered the other day.

Not on our radar at the time, however, was an interesting project from Tropicana that will take the expected high velocity Twitter coverage of the election all day and present it in a unique way. The experiment seeks to monitor hot buzz word frequencies and graph them in relation to one of the candidates in a series of “half rings”. The rings grow as the phrases and words are used in association with one of the candidates.



The hot words being planned are fixed at the moment, but will be added to as hot topics emerge throughout the day. Current words on the radar are Iraq, terrorism, freedom, economy and poll.

Twitter is expecting a record setting volume for Election Day with Twitter co-founder Biz Stone sending out an email to users today stating:

We anticipate record-breaking activity on Twitter all day tomorrow. We’ll be staying late at work watching Current TV’s Twitter-powered election night programming.

The Tropicana technical project lead is New Media Strategies and while we do not have a URL for the project yet (we were only given screenshots), this post will be updated when that information becomes available.

You can, of course, follow me on Twitter during the election or any other time at @technosailor.

Update: The URL for the project is anorangeamerica.com.

How the Cable Guy could salvage the DTV transition, and why he's afraid to try.

If you don’t live under a rock, you probably know about the U.S. transition to Digital TV broadcasts coming in February.

If you’ve been following it, you know that the number of people affected, i.e. those who receive only over-the-air television, has constantly been in dispute. The Federal Communications Commission, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, National Association of Broadcasters, National Cable and Telecommunications Association, Consumer Electronics Association, Community Broadcasters Association, and a host of other interest groups with three and four letter abbreviations have all weighed in over the past 3 years (since the “hard date” for cut-off was set) with dueling statistics on how many people are effected by the switch, are aware of the looming transition, have used the Converter Box Coupon program the Government has in place to try and help, and so on and so forth.

We’re not sure how many people get over the air TV exclusively. But we know that a recent test in Wilmington, NC did not go over so well, and could be an indicator of the chaos next February will bring.

What about the Converter Box program? It has been plagued by problems, especially the lack of inclusion of “analog pass-through” mechanisms that would let digital boxers receive the analog signals from “Class A” T.V. stations, low power community stations that often serve minority communities and rural areas. Those stations are not required to switch, but with the wrong converter boxes, could lose much of their audience in one fell swoop.

The status of the program, along with the education campaign that has gone with it, can be summed up with this hilarious, but sadly accurate parody of the PSAs that have been airing more and more frequently thanks to an FCC requirement.

It’s October 19th as I write this. We’re just under five months out from the analog shutoff. And no one really knows what will happen after those transmitters go dark and a few million Americans turn on their TV’s to see…maybe nothing. Just snow. And even if they got a converter box, they might still have a problem.

See, unlike analog signals, which might come in fuzzy but still provide a picture, a DTV signal either gets received, or it doesn’t. There isn’t a trailing off of the signal, there’s just a cliff. And we don’t know for sure how well the digital signals will work or how many people will be affected by reception problems.

And remember those LPTV stations? They are just starting to get funding for their own transition, but they may well be out of business before they can get to it. And what about communicating emergency information and alerts? This is a vital function of broadcasters, whose licenses are conditioned on the requirement that they satisfy the “public interest” in exchange for free airwaves. All those little battery operated sets that people in hurricane and tornado prone regions keep around “just in case?” Worthless. And battery-operated digital sets are so expensive they’re almost impossible to find.

The government agencies in charge of this debacle, the FCC and NTIA, have had since 2005 to prepare for this. There have been many, many oversight hearings on both the House and Senate sides of the Capitol, where a littany of officials, including FCC chairman Kevin Martin and (Acting) NTIA boss Meredith Baker (who has been the third NTIA head since the transition date was set) have told skeptical lawmakers that all is and will be just fine.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schulz, D-Fl., has repeatedly asked where her constituents should turn for emergency information post-cutoff. Her warnings have been ignored by much of the media outside the telecommunications world. But Senate Commerce Committee member David Vitter, R-La. has been strangely silent on the issue despite his state’s tragic experience with Katrina.

So how bad will it be?

We don’t have to find out.

Would you be surprised if I told you that there was a way to get a reprieve for consumers without delaying the transition which will give needed spectrum to public safety personnel as well as open up a whole new generation of wireless networks for consumers and business?

What if I told you that the solution is probably not far from where you are sitting.

It’s Cable TV.

Not the fancy HD Digital Cable with On Demand, but plain old analog cable that you can plug into your “cable-ready” T.V. or get with one of the millions of analog “black boxes” that are rotting away in warehouses.

Cable companies have wiring running past just about every house in America. It’s just that not everyone gets the service hooked up or turned on.

The industry has agreed to keep analog signals flowing down their pipes until 2012. What if the cable companies simply “lit up” a limited analog service (say, carrying the broadcast channels, LPTV signals and regular announcements on how to get DTV reception) and let people get hooked up and plug in for a limited amount of time, during which they would know that a) they need get the problem fixed before the temp service stops and b) give the government time to make sure the job is done right.

Two things would happen:

  1. We would greatly decrease the number of people that would lose access to their over-the-air stations while allowing for a better focused campaign to help the most vulnerable consumers (seniors, language minorities, etc) who may have been missed by the haphazard and last-minute campaign put on by the NAB and FCC.
  2. By measuring how many households hook up to the “transitional” cable, we could get a much better number on how many households got missed by the converter box program but receive OTA signals. We’d also know where they live, so they could get help converting during the time the transitional service is up.

This sounds like a good idea, right? Sort of a mulligan for the FCC and NTIA. And a way for the Cable industry to get some much needed good karma by offering a hand with what could be a very big problem.

But the industry has two roadblocks in the way. First, House Energy and Commerce chairman Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., has warned against the industry trying to use the switch for corporate gain. One does not want to incur the wrath of the longest-serving member of the House. And the FCC has also offered cautions to the industry. Nothing gets chairman Martin’s blood boiling like cable ever since they balked at his “a la carte” pricing proposal a few years back.

Second, if the NCTA coordinates any kind of unilateral effort by the industry to help, it could run into antitrust problems. Competitors to cable, including Satellite services, FIOS provider Verizon and maybe even broadcasters themselves might see an attempt to dig the country out of a hole as a power grab and sue. Litigation is not pretty, folks.

There are other, more wonkish concerns as well, This stopgap service could possibly pour gas on the smoldering tire fire of “must-carry” and “retransmission consent” disputes. But

But at this point in the game, letting cable offer a broadcast-only and time-limited service in order to put some more time on the clock might be the best way to turn what could be a major disaster for many into a quantifiable problem that could be fixed with a coordinated effort.

Or we can see what happens and pick up the pieces afterwards.

Just an idea, that’s all.

Things we can agree on.

I had the misfortune recently of sitting through a discussion of the policies of both Presidential candidates on data protection and cybersecurity. Or so I thought.

While the representative from the Obama campaign, a respected law professor and privacy expert who I have seen testify before Congress many times, was direct but cautious in his answers to the moderator’s less-than-pointed questions, the representative from the McCain side, a former FTC commissioner who has also done good work on privacy issues, filibustered, brought up irrelevant things like ACORN instead of talking about problems with the REAL ID Act, and managed to mention taxes 3 or 4 times at least. I’ll have to check my tape while I write the straight news article on the event.

So I left the Rayburn building feeling a bit down about our prospects for achieving things like more broadband access or sane copyright enforcement. But then I got a call from an acquaintance familiar with some of my older blogging work, asked me what I think about Network Neutrality.

Now, I make my living as a journalist. I strive to be objective, which to me means being fair and yes, balanced in how I report on events. This doesn’t mean I give equal time to both sides, or I don’t find a way to debunk a statement or ask a tough question when I hear someone lie to me. It means I keep an open mind, observe, and report. If something is wrong, I find out and report that. I don’t opine for myself. For someone who is self-taught and started as a blogger, it’s not easy. But even as a blogger, I try to be nuanced. There’s too much “hate speech” going around on tech policy topics, whether copyright protection, network management or intercarrier compensation (don’t ask). And topics as complex as these can’t always be boiled down to right and wrong, black or white, A or B.

Back to my phone call. I was giving my personal opinion, based on my years of experience following the telecommunications industry in the private sector, as a journalist, and as someone who enjoys thinking about the law.  Actually, I wasn’t giving much of an opinion at all. How can I?

Surely, there are legitimate issues in dealing with things like network management or network neutrality. They’re complex. They’re often overblown and turned into political footballs. But it’s perfectly reasonable, I said, to believe in things like equal opportunity, rule of law and honesty. Don’t lie. Don’t cheat. Don’t steal. Don’t tip the scales on either side. Do the right thing. Simple, right?

Does that translate into specific policies I advocate? Absolutely not. I’m no more in favor of specific regulations than I am of total deregulation. If you ask me what I really think about a specific net neutrality bill, I honestly don’t have an opinion one way or the other. Really. I just told you what I think one paragraph ago.

I’ll boil it down to this: Look at any policy issue and ask what the right thing to do is. It’s right to make sure the consumer gets what he pays for. It’s right to make sure if someone owns something and another uses it (outside of fair use), the owner gets paid. How do we get there? I’ll let others talk about it and I’ll sit back and report. And if I see bullshit, I’ll ask about it.

What’s my opinion? I don’t know, and I probably don’t care. The wonks and the businesses can hammer out the details. But I think we can all agree that there are things we can agree on in technology.


"Citizen Journalism" — a label for recklessness that has to go.

(note: this story originally appeared on my personal site, Capitol Valley. I am republishing it here because I feel it merits as wide a discussion as possible, and this site attracts a different demographic than the other. Please read and comment.)

Was that headline provocative enough for you? Are you reading? Good! I’m going to let you in on a secret…

there is NO SUCH THING as “Citizen Journalism.”

Do I have to repeat myself? I’ll say it one more time.

There is NO SUCH THING as “Citizen Journalism.”

Good. Now I’ve really got your attention. Please keep reading.

The web allows anyone to publish anything, pretty much at any time, on any subject. With some SEO voodoo, it can even get to a good place in search results.

Cheap video and still digital cameras, broadband, and the advent of blogging have brought about this idea of “citizen journalism,” presumably to report the “real” stories that get ignored by “mainstream media.” Many bloggers have assumed this mantle of “citizen journalist,” and some sites like The Uptake have embraced the idea of publishing firsthand reporting by Joe Sixpack, as Sarah Palin would say. This has acquired the “citizen journalism” title.  Some sites take this further, like the “collaborative journalism” of NowPublic. CNN has had an “iReport” site that posts “citizen journalists'” clips, reports, and other snippets.

This isn’t neccesarily a bad thing. I have no formal training in journalism, but I consider myself a journalist. I think the more people out there who are reporting on events, the better.

But I strongly believe that the idea of “citizen journalism” needs to be abandoned, for good. Heck, I even hate the word “blogger,” especially when describing people like Josh Marshall, who won a Polk Award (for journalism) based on his Talking Points Memo work on the US Attorney scandal. He’s a journalist.

Journalism isn’t so much a profession as it is a craft with a set of values. You practice the craft and follow the values? You’re a journalist.

I’ve covered events, Congressional hearings, and other issues as an independent writer and on behalf of other organizations. I haven’t always gotten paid. But I’ve never called myself a “citizen journalist.”

On the other hand, I do think that when I do these things, I am practicing journalism. Not citizen journalism, just journalism.

If you report on, provide informed analysis or document events for the benefit of an audience in a true and accurate manner, that’s journalism. It’s ok, in my opinion, to have a slant or to call out untruths when you see them. Some people think that reporting requires you to get someone to tell you 2+2=4. I’m not so sure I always agree. Facts are facts, and obvious facts are…obvious.

But when you’re reporting a breaking story that isn’t a widely known fact, you should be checking on the veracity of the story. That means sending emails, making phone calls, or getting off your butt and talking to people, BEFORE you publish. Publishing untruths, like the idiot who told the world (erroneously) that Steve Jobs had a heart attack, is not only irresponsible, but it’s not journalism. It’s rumour-mongering.

Calling it “citizen journalism” and holding it to a lower standard is nothing but a cop-out. Journalism is not a licensed profession, like law or medicine. But it is similar in that it has some fundimental ethical principles that journalists follow:

  • Don’t publish things that aren’t true.
  • Check your sources. Check them twice. If you’re not sure, don’t publish. Being right is better than being first and wrong.
  • Ask questions. Be skeptical. Don’t be a mouthpiece.
  • Avoid conflicts, or disclose them fully and prominently. Kara Swisher has been a shining beacon on this front. Read her disclosure statements. They are easy to find, candid, and leave nothing to question, unlike some other tech bloggers. I respect Michael Arrington, but having a subordinate write about a company you have a stake in is not good enough to pass ethical muster.

This is what Kara has to say about her investments:

I have investments in several group funds, which are managed without my input primarily by an investment bank, and they might from time to time put my money into funds that buy shares of stock in the companies I write about. But I do not have any knowledge about when they buy and sell any shares. I also have several general stock-index mutual funds related to my former employment at Dow Jones, but none is specifically technology-focused, although any one might, from time to time, acquire shares in some technology companies I write about. In this case, as with all my investments, I also have no knowledge of when they buy and sell any shares.

Anyway, considering what happened to Apple’s stock Friday, I will continue to be highly skeptical of anyone who invests in companies that they or their subordinates write about. Arrington has a reputation for firing people for linking to other tech blogs. How do you think he’d handle a negative review of one of his investments?

“Citizen Journalism” does not exist. There is good journalism, and there is bad journalism. Whether you are paid or not is not at issue. The issue is how you go about doing it.

If your house catches fire, the people who put it out may be volunteers, or they may get paid. But they still go into burning buildings, and they all have the same commitment to doing it right.

Think about it.

House relents on New Media, adopts updated rules for Web video

Congressional use of online video, (an issue that this site has covered since the beginning) finally got over its last hurdle today as the Committee on House Administration adopted new rules allowing use of outside websites by Members. The Committee approved a proposal based on reccomendations made in July by Rep. Vern Ehlers, R-Mich., in a letter to Franking Commission chairman Robert Brady, D-Mass.

From the release:

WASHINGTON ““ The Committee on House Administration adopted new web regulations that will permit Members to use outside websites like YouTube to communicate with constituents.  The new regulations, which are based upon a proposal presented in June by GOP Members of the Committee, represent a vital step to providing new, uncensored channels of communication between Members of Congress and their constituents.
The new web regulations, which were adopted via Committee poll, permit Members to post content on outside websites so long as the content is for “œofficial purposes,” and not personal, commercial or campaign related.

House Minority leader John Boener, R-Ohio issued the following statement:

“œI commend Chairman Brady and Ranking Member Ehlers for their leadership on this important matter.  The Internet is a powerful tool that gives Americans an unprecedented window into the daily actions of their government.  It’s critical for Congress to embrace new technology in all forms in order to more efficiently communicate with their constituents and promote increased openness and transparency in government.

“œThese new guidelines are a step in the right direction for a Congress that has been behind the technological curve for too long.  By encouraging the use of emerging and established new media tools, Congress is sending the message that we want to speak to citizens, and receive feedback, in the most open and accessible manner possible.

“œI’m pleased Chairman Brady and Ranking Member Ehlers were able to work in a bipartisan fashion and steer clear of proposals that could have had a negative effect on congressional transparency and open government.”

I’ll admit, I am more than pleased to see that the CHA has put this issue to bed. I first broke the story in a July 3rd article in Washington Internet Daily, and it quickly exploded into a mini-controversy, hitting CNN, the New York Times, and causing a bit a dustup in the House.

Here are two clips of the interview with Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas, that started it all.

In addition, Culberson is one of the co-chairs of the newly created GOP New Media Caucus, along with Rob Wittman, R-Va. and Bob Latta, R-Ohio.

Right now members and staff have indicated that this is a Republican-led effort. Calls to Democratic leadership have not been returned, understandably because new media is probably the last thing on their minds right now.

We will bring you as much news as we can on this topic as Congressional use of new/social media moves into the mainstream.

Don't ask questions, give them answers.

I like the group at Ars Technica. They do some pretty unique things and have a great mix of content on their site. But when it comes to policy coverage, the blog-like style they use sometimes encourages shortcuts or causes a story to miss big details.

For instance, Sunday night, Matthew Lasar wrote a post about the FCC’s consideration of rules governing “embedded ads” (product placement). While he touched on some good points, he missed a few things that you’ve just gotta have if you’re gonna write about telecom policy.

First off, he immediately divides the debate into two sides, a “good versus evil” mentality:

As the filings stream in during the Federal Communications Commission’s proceeding on what to do about embedded advertising, one thing is clear: you are either for a crackdown on the practice or against one. If you are a public health or consumer advocacy group, you belong to the first category. If you speak for the media companies and broadcasters, you are firmly ensconced in the second.

One side sees embedded ads as an intrusive, dishonest, and unhealthy innovation. The other sees product placement as the new foundation of the media’s economic well being. It is really that simple.

I’ve read Mr. Lasar for a long time, but having covered this issue myself, and actually spoken to some of the policymakers and advocates on both sides, I felt his subsequent quotations of written comments without a deeper discussion of the difference between commission authority over broadcasters versus cable content, FCC initiatives to deal with cable pricing and content (so-called a la carte pricing), and the known views of the commissioners themselves left much to be desire, especially when he closed the post like so:

All these commentaries grapple with the complex questions swirling around the product placement regulation issue. Does the FCC have statutory authority to make new rules? Does the First Amendment restrain the agency’s hand? Does the Children’s Television Act already guard children’s TV shows against embedded advertising?

But beyond these concerns, a prominent divide on the issue stands out. Consumer advocates see product placement as a clear and present harm to civil society. Big media sees it as the future.

For one, I believe the job of a reporter or blogger is to attempt to answer the questions. Dig deeper. Find out the why behind the what instead of assuming motives. Most importantly, talk to someone. Both as a solo blogger and during my time at Communications Daily, I always made it a point to talk to sources and experts, not just regurgitate written statements. Granted, I’m in D.C and have been around the industry for a while, but it doesn’t take much effort to get a hold of someone in this town, especially if you’ve been bought by Conde Nast, and your publication has hired a damn fine journalist to run the Ars D.C. operation.

I know FCC issues can be complex, and for an “outsider” they can easily be reduced to black and white. But there is a serious lack of in-depth technology policy coverage on the web, good coverage that exposes the many shades of gray and layers in these issues. There is a real need for it, so If you’re going to do it, do it right. That means more than quoting comments, adding some editorializing and posting it. The job of a good reporter or blogger isn’t just to ask tell your readers what the questions are, it is also to FIND THE ANSWERS, or at least to try, in order to get the truth to those readers. The record in this case is sufficient not only to require background and context, but the issue is important enough that reporting on it should get more than a few cut-and-pastes. Get on the phone and talk to someone who knows more than you do. That’s what I always did, and whenever possible, I still do.

The following is a comment I posted on Ars forums in response to the article. It’s not an attack on anyone, or anyone’s work. What it is (I hope,) is an attempt to fill in the blanks and provide some background as to the questions raised in the article and how some of the issues it raised came to be.

While I appreciate the effort to cover this issue, you’ve missed several important distinctions that significantly impact the debate and readers should consider.

First of all, no one disputes the Commission’s authority over broadcast television, and no one disputes the fact that “embedded advertising” (which is really a fancy word for product placement) must be disclosed. As you already reported, you’ll see the disclosures fly by in ending credits. This is not controversial at all. Rules governing advertising on broadcast television fall under the “public interest” test the FCC must apply to its decision-making process. Product placement has been around for years, but its increasing frequency and the changing advertising market that NAB admits to both demand that the commission re-examine current rules to make sure that broadcasters are satisfying the “public interest” obligation they must meet in order to keep their licenses.

Second, the NPRM would not be making any new rules with respect to children’s programming. What the Commission wants to do is clarify the existing rules to make it clear that embedded advertising is prohibited under the existing ban on advertising inside children’s programming. The requirements of the Children’s Television Act are not in dispute here. The FCC is obligated to make sure their rules carry out the intent of statute, and this means making sure that the rules do not fall out of date with respect to changing technologies.

Whether or not the ban applies to cable programming in addition to broadcast television is part of the larger issue of how far the commission’s authority extends over cable programming. The extent that a channel is a subscription service is an important factor in making this determination (for the same reason that HBO can be racier than TNT). The cable industry could remove any doubt by offering channels a la carte, something NCTA has consistently and strongly opposed, much to the ire of Chairman Martin.

While the FCC has not chosen to heavily regulate cable programming out of (legitimate) First Amendment concerns, a move to further regulate product placement in broadcast television, would surely “trickle down” to the basic cable channels that carry vast amounts of second-run and syndicated broadcast content in addition to original programming.

Where the cable industry in particular has a vested interest in keeping product placement rules the same is they are now in the process of rolling out their new Tru2Way interactive content platform as well as moving to all digital networks. Digital technology will eventually allow much more addressable advertising based on programming choices and other viewing habits in addition to location and time slot. If ordinary product placement must be disclosed more clearly, the industry’s ability to sell ads in interactive programming and games (which could be targeted to children) could be in jeopardy.

The commission has already reached a “broad consensus” on clarifying the existing ban on advertising to children, according to Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein (D). But Chairman Martin has not called for a vote on the issue. Nor has he called for any vote on re-examining rules governing product placement and disclosure.

With respect to the children’s programming ad ban, Commissioner Deborah Tate (R) has been a strong advocate for child safety and protection, but has declined to say publicly whether she supports clarifying the ban on ads in children’s programming. When the House adjourns, her term will expire, leaving an open seat and increasing the likelihood of 2-2 party line votes that would prevent rules from being adopted in absence of a majority.

Framing this debate as “big media versus consumers” oversimplifies what is a combination of far more complex issues that have been out there for years and are an inevitable consequence of the FCC’s legal obligations as well as the constitutional constraints it operates under. And while you’ve based much of the article on the public comments, you don’t include much information on where the Commissioners themselves might stand. Nor do you attempt to provide any background on the subject of FCC’s lack of explicit statutory authority over cable television content (and the a la carte pricing debate that springs from it) or any analysis from industry experts that would allow you to give readers a better view of the issue than just “consumers versus media.”

Web Video Issue Derails in House

A resolution for the House of Representatives to adopt a more relaxed Senate rule on Web video sites was stopped dead in its tracks by House Administration Committee chairman Mike Capuano, D-Mass., during a contentious Thursday hearing.

The proposed resolution, offered by Rep. Vern Ehlers, R-Mich., is similar to positions he articulated in a letter earlier this year during a controversy over members’ use of Qik, Youtube and other Web video sites. The Ehlers resolution would have the House adopt rules passed by the Senate Rules Committee earlier this week, allowing senators more discretion in which services they use while maintaining an “advisory” list. “œIt seems that the Senate has come up with a good resolution,” Ehlers said.

Capuano was furious at what he saw at having his proposal called an “attack on free speech” as well as alleged backroom deal-making by Ehlers and others, shouting “œHonestly, if you want to make a deal, pick up the phone or find me on the floor. This is not the cooperative way to do it.”

It appears unlikely that the House will take action before the November elections. “Further review is required,” Capuano said.

Talking about Tubes

I do apologize for the infrequency of posts. I expected more to write about.

Now I have no excuse. Starting Friday, there will be a confluence of technology events that will be covered, here and elsewhere.

Friday morning, I’ll be at the Broadband Census for America conference. I’ve written in this space about infrastructure before, and I am excited to hear people talk about it. I’ll be providing coverage both here, on my own blog (Capitol Valley) and on BroadbandCensus.com itself.

Friday afternoon through Sunday I’ll be at TPRC’s 36th annual conference on Communication, Information and Internet Policy. I hope to be able to provide coverage of the panels and speakers there as well.

Network Management – deadlines and rhetoric

Another filing deadline, another blast of press releases about the Comcast “network management” debacle.

To quote the great philosopher Rodney King, “can’t we all just get along?”

No, really. This topic gets people in an uproar, whether it’s the good and well-meaning people at Free Press and Public Knowledge, who brought the complaint, or the folks at Comcast and their NCTA brethren, who have made a valiant effort at reaching out to the Internet community and explaining themselves. They have a great blog. Seriously.

At first, I think there was some justified anger out there. I know there was some major ranting on this blog about what was, in hindsight was a poor P.R. response on the part of Comcast.

See, Network Neutrality was originally this fear that the owners of the big pipes were going to charge Google and others premiums to have their content carried, despite the fact that GOOG and their ilk already pay. This came out of some rather inartful comments by the CEO of what was then AT&T, who ranted about Internet companies making money using “his” infrastructure.

This whole “network management” issue is totally different, but the Network Neutrality debate shifted from the long-haul to the last mile. And Comcast, bless them, didn’t react well. First they said there was nothing going on, then admitted it. Then back in March they announced an agreement to try and work out the technical issues that make Cable so difficult a platform to deliver consistant bandwidth on when P2P applications come into play.

Skip ahead to today. Free Press blasted out a release saying it’s time for Comcast to “come clean” on their practices, when we know what they are doing, and have known for months.

“Last month, the FCC found Comcast guilty of violating users’ online rights,” Free Press said. But let’s be honest here. Guilty? Last time I looked, not only was the FCC not a criminal court, but there is even dispute over whether or not the FCC can regulate broadband.

But a Free Press spokesperson said that guilty, which has a specific meaning in criminal law, was appropriate as a term of art, “given the amount of deception involved.”

Ben Scott, FP’s Policy Director even suggested that Comcast might go “AWOL,” and not file. But a spokesperson for Comcast was quite adamant in assuring me that the “highly technical” filings would be in the commission’s hands “by close of business.” Comcast will also make them available at http://www.comcast.net/networkmanagement after filing them with the commission.

Let’s cool off until we see what everyone’s cards are, shall we?