- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Comment sought on Internet rules

Federal communications regulators Wednesday put off a controversial decision on Internet-traffic rules, giving industry and consumer groups a chance to forge a compromise while avoiding a politically sensitive issue ahead of the November elections.

The Federal Communications Commission has been prodding phone, cable and Internet companies for months to find consensus on the thorny issue of “Net neutrality” - a debate over whether high-speed Internet providers should be allowed to give preferential treatment to content providers who pay for faster transmission.

Broadband and Internet companies have held a series of face-to-face and phone meetings this summer to craft a framework on how to treat the Internet data flowing through both home connections and wireless devices.

But those talks have failed to yield a deal, owing to big differences over the treatment of wireless broadband in particular. At stake is how quickly handheld devices, like Research in Motion’s BlackBerry and Apple’s iPhone, can receive and download videos and other content.

Rather than imposing stricter regulations that are opposed by broadband providers, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski delayed a decision by calling for more public comment. He wants to know how companies and consumers will be affected if wireless devices are treated differently from home broadband lines.

“We have made progress over the last year - but we still have work to do,” Mr. Genachowski said.


Boeing, GE tapped for trade mission

The U.S. Commerce Department said Wednesday it will lead 15 U.S. companies, including Boeing, General Electric and Wamar International, on a trade mission to Iraq in October.

“The U.S.-Iraq bilateral relationship is entering a new phase of commercial engagement,” Francisco Sanchez, undersecretary of Commerce, said in statement. “This trade mission will connect American and Iraqi companies in a partnership to rebuild the Iraqi economy.”

The announcement came one day after President Obama declared an end to the seven-year U.S. combat mission in Iraq and as that war-battered country needs investment in virtually every sector.

The Iraqi government has budgeted more than $80 billion for infrastructure development, focusing on a number of large projects relating to construction, highways, railways, telecommunications, and security and defense, the Commerce Department said.

In addition, Iraq’s gross domestic production has nearly doubled since 2006, “soaring from $57 billion to $112 billion in 2009,” the Commerce Department said.


July unemployment up in half of cities

The unemployment rate rose in nearly half of the nation’s 374 largest metro areas in July, as the pace of hiring slowed from earlier this year.

The Labor Department says the jobless rate rose in 178 areas, dropped in 151 and was unchanged in 45.

Despite the weak showing, that’s an improvement from June. The jobless rate rose in about three-quarters of the metro areas. But it’s worse than this spring, when rates declined in more than 230 areas for three straight months.

The economy is barely growing, and economists worry it won’t expand fast enough to bring down the 9.5 percent national unemployment rate. On Friday, the government is expected to say that private employers added only 41,000 jobs in August, down from 71,000 the previous month.


BP spent $93M on advertising

Oil giant BP says it has spent more than $5 million a week on advertising since the Gulf Coast oil spill more than three times the amount it spent on ads during the same period last year.

BP PLC told the House Energy and Commerce Committee that it spent a total of $93 million on advertising from April to the end of July. The company says the money was intended to keep Gulf Coast residents informed on issues related to the oil spill and to ensure transparency about its actions. The increased spending was largely targeted at TV, newspapers and magazines. A small portion was directed to the Internet.

BP says it aired fewer TV spots from April to July than during a similar period last year, but a greater percentage were on national TV and for 60 seconds instead of 30 seconds.

Rep. Kathy Castor, Florida Democrat, who requested the report on BP’s spending, said Wednesday she was disappointed that the oil company has spent more money “polishing the corporate image” than on helping Gulf Coast states recover from the April 20 explosion and oil spill. BP said it has spent $89.5 million in grants to four Gulf Coast states Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana to promote tourism in the wake of the oil spill.

“It feels like BP is overdoing it” with its advertising, which has focused heavily on states directly affected by the oil spill, Mrs. Castor said. “It’s really making people angry. Everyday you get up and see these full-page ads in every newspaper and the TV ads. It’s really ticking people off.”

Scott Dean, a spokesman for BP, said large companies such as BP spend hundreds of millions each year to communicate about their activities and products.

The money spent on advertising is a relatively small proportion of BP’s total expenditures of about $6.1 billion so far on the oil spill, Mr. Dean said.


GOP ad money supports Rubio

The Republican Party is supplying $2.5 million in advertising support to Marco Rubio’s Senate campaign in Florida, a sizable commitment to a candidate the party once tried to push out of the contest.

The money from the National Republican Senatorial Committee is the maximum the party can spend in coordination with Mr. Rubio. A party official said the money will be devoted to television ads at a time that is agreeable to Mr. Rubio’s campaign.

Mr. Rubio is in a three-way contest with Democratic Rep. Kendrick B. Meek and Gov. Charlie Crist, a former Republican now running as an independent. Mr. Crist had been the GOP’s chosen candidate in the race until Mr. Rubio, a “tea party”-backed candidate, outdistanced Mr. Crist in the polls.

Mr. Rubio could use the money. His latest campaign-finance report, filed last month, showed $4.5 million cash on hand, compared to $8 million for Crist. Mr. Meek reported $2.6 million in the bank.

For the NRSC, the financial support represents the second infusion of money into a tight Senate contest. Last week, it agreed to spend $3.4 million in the Senate race in Illinois in coordination with Republican candidate Rep. Mark Steven Kirk.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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