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Being PC at CES

LAS VEGAS -- CES -- Credit Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) VP of external affairs Joe Waz for using restraint this week when asked about adjustments he might like to see at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) , the source of some big regulatory headaches and frustration for the cable industry. (See FCC Demands Cable Sub Data , The Chairman's Holy Grail, NCTA Seeks MDU Ruling Reversal , and FCC Caps Cable .)

On Monday, near the end of a panel called "Finding the Right Bandwidth," The Carmel Group chairman and session moderator Jimmy Schaeffler asked members of the panel what one thing they'd like to change at the FCC. All eyes quickly darted to Waz, whose company is locking legal horns with the FCC over the agency's denial of a set-top waiver in the wake of the July 2007 integrated security ban. (See Comcast Takes CableCARD Battle to Court .)

"You're asking a cable guy?" he asked jokingly, but didn't really take the bait too hard, considering that some in the audience probably expected he might aim a volley at cable's biggest fan, FCC chairman Kevin Martin.

"I'd like to hit the delete button on the last 12 months," Waz said, adding that he'd like to see some "process improvements" at the agency. "I think the FCC has lost its way in its ability to get good, solid factual decisions done on a timely basis... with the openness that you need for an entity that's responsible for hundreds of billions of dollars in our economy.”

Other service operators on the panel chimed in, but were careful not to link their issues with individuals at the agency, but with the FCC itself.

"The FCC has to be overhauled for the Internet world," said Tom Tauke, EVP of public policy and communications for Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ).

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) SVP of external and legislative affairs Jim Cicconi offered a similar assessment. "I would like to see Congress take a fresh look at the entire mission of the FCC," he said. "Rather than approach prescriptive regulation of intra-industry relations, I think it ought be be restructured around consumer protection."

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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