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John Cobb

John Cobb is an associate in the firm’s Washington, DC office and a member of the Technology and Communications Regulation Practice Group. Prior to joining Covington, John served as the Legal Advisor to the FCC’s Broadband Data Task Force where he provided legal guidance to the Task Force on matters related to implementation of the Broadband DATA Act and the FCC’s Broadband Data Collection. Before that, John served as an Honors Attorney in the Policy Division of the FCC’s Media Bureau where he worked on matters affecting the media industry, including multiple administrative rulemakings in the Modernization of Media Regulation Initiative.

Last month, the FCC adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) seeking comment on a proposal that it reports is intended to incentivize the production of local media by radio and television broadcast stations.  In the NPRM, the FCC proposes to “adopt a processing policy to prioritize evaluation of those applications filed by stations that certify that they provide locally originated programming” in certain circumstances.  FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel has stated that this proposal will support local journalism, which she explained is “vital for our communities and our country.”Continue Reading FCC Seeks Comment on Proposal to Prioritize Locally Produced Media

On Tuesday, July 25, 2023, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced that it has finalized a notice of proposed rulemaking (“NPRM”) under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) to establish clear technical accessibility standards for state and local governments’ websites and mobile applications (“apps”).  Although the text of the proposed rule has not yet been released, according to the White House, it “suggests clear technical standards, like including text descriptions of images so people using screen readers can understand the content, providing captions on videos, and enabling navigation through use of a keyboard instead of a mouse for those with limited use of their hands.”  Note that the proposed rule would apply to state and local government websites and apps only, but as discussed below this rulemaking could have a shadow effect on disputes about the accessibility of commercial websites and apps. Continue Reading Biden Administration Announces Rulemaking to Improve the Accessibility of Online Public Services for Americans with Disabilities

Last week, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) released a Report and Order, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, and Order that seeks “to ensure that video conferencing is accessible to all.”  The action establishes that video conferencing services, including popular platforms used by millions of Americans every day for work, school, healthcare, and more, fall within the definition of “interoperable video conferencing service” set forth in the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (“CVAA”).  It also seeks comment on performance standards for interoperable video conferencing services and proposes to amend the FCC’s telecommunications relay services (“TRS”) rules to facilitate the use of video relay services (“VRS”) in video conferences.  Finally, the FCC granted a partial waiver of the VRS privacy screen rule to allow VRS users participating in a video conference to turn off their cameras when not presenting.  The item garnered unanimous support from the Commission.Continue Reading FCC Updates Rules to “Ensure that Video Conferencing is Accessible to All”

On May 25, 2023, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced that, on behalf of the U.S. government, it filed responses to the European Commission’s public consultation on The Future of the Electronic Communications Sector and Its Infrastructure.  The consultation explores the issue of how to best promote connectivity and ensure reliable broadband access throughout the EU, as well as the kinds of infrastructure and investments needed to support the evolving telecommunications landscape.  Among other things, the consultation seeks feedback on whether content and application providers (also referred to as Over-The-Top (OTT) services in the U.S.) should make mandated “fair share” payments to telecom operators to subsidize current and future connectivity needs.  NTIA’s filing comes amid an ongoing debate surrounding the future of the U.S. Universal Service Fund (USF) and whether and how to expand its contribution base.Continue Reading Biden Administration Weighs in on European Commission’s “Fair Share” Telecoms Consultation