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Rick Boucher speaks of Hulu, Boxee, gains major tech cred at Comcast-NBC hearing

February 5, 2010 |  5:43 pm

Rick-boucherA week ago, Rick Boucher's seat as a Virginia House representative was very much in question. He may be losing popularity among a section of his constituents.

But the Democratic representative won some definite points on Thursday with a large tech-savvy crowd.

In Thursday's congressional hearing for the proposed Comcast-NBC Universal merger, Boucher revived an issue that infuriated a vocal sect of Internet TV consumers.

Boucher rather astutely asked the NBC Universal chief executive why his Hulu website had blocked a service called Boxee from accessing its content last year.

NBC's Jeff Zucker fumbled over the question, creating more doubts than answers. But technology commentators and observers went into a tizzy over this politician who was plugged-in enough to know what's worth asking.

Boxee is a media center program that runs on most computers and can be connected to a television set. Its nearly one-million early technology adopters use it to access various free television shows, music and movies on the Web -- including those offered by online television portal Hulu.

Boucher may be losing popularity among the heavy coal-producing constituents in his Virginia region thanks to his vote for cap-and-trade legislation last year. So much so that Boucher, who's faced with running for his 15th term this year, felt compelled to address the doubt head on.

"I am planning to seek reelection. I have given no consideration to retiring," Boucher wrote in a statement. "While I never make political announcements this early in the year, due to the press inquiries we are receiving, it is time to remove any doubt anyone has about my intentions."

He might consider pulling a Ron Paul. There's probably enough geeks in Virginia to make a grass-roots, Web-fueled campaign worthwhile.

-- Mark Milian

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Image: Rep. Rick Boucher. Captured from CSPAN video