VOA Chief Flouts House Subpoena, Angering Reps

The head of the government’s main international broadcasting agency flouted a subpoena for congressional testimony Thursday, angering both Democrats and Republicans already alarmed by his management tactics. Michael Pack, chief executive of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, which oversees Voice of America and similar institutions, was issued a subpoena by the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week after he reneged on a promise to appear before the panel citing unspecified “administrative proceedings,” according to the panel’s chairman, Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.)

Fox News Wins Lawsuit Over Tucker Carlson’s ‘Extortion’ Analogy

COMMENTARY BY HILTON H. HOWELL JR.

The FCC Should Help Save At-Risk Local Broadcast News Services

Gray Television CEO Hilton H. Howell Jr.: “With the nation facing multiple overlapping crises, local news outlets are stepping up with critical local news and information, providing updates on health warnings, coverage of local economies, reports from the street, and news conferences from local officials. The story you won’t see in these broadcasts is that many of these stations, especially those serving small, rural markets, are at risk due to the economic downturn and the shift of local ad dollars to largely unregulated internet platforms, like Google and Facebook.”

BRAND CONNECTIONS

FTC, DOJ Propose Changes To Antitrust Reviews

The Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice are seeking comment on a couple of proposed changes to the automatic Hart Scott Rodino (HSR) antitrust reviews, which are required of large mergers (ones valued at at least $94 million). The FTC and DOJ divide up antitrust reviews, with DOJ generally handling the media merger reviews.

TVN’S FCC WATCH

TVN’s FCC Watch | A Broadcaster’s Guide To Washington Issues

TVNewsCheck‘s quarterly quick briefing on the legal and regulatory proceedings affecting broadcasters from communications attorneys David Oxenford and David O’Connor.

Trump Backs Proposed TikTok Deal

Trump said the proposed deal between Oracle and Walmart will result in a new company likely to be based in Texas. “I have given the deal my blessing,” he said. “If they get it done, that’s great. If they don’t, that’s OK too.”

Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg Dies At 87

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court and a pioneering advocate for women’s rights. Her death Friday from complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer, just over six weeks before Election Day, is likely to set off a heated battle over whether President Donald Trump should nominate, and the Republican-led Senate should confirm, her replacement, or if the seat should remain vacant until the outcome of his race against Democrat Joe Biden is known.

Republicans Ask DOJ To Prosecute Netflix Over ‘Cuties’

Saying that the Sundance award-winning film Cuties meets the definition of child pornography, almost three dozen Republican members of Congress led by Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana have called on Attorney General Bill Barr to prosecute Netflix for distributing it.

US Bans WeChat, TikTok From App Stores

The Commerce Department said President Trump’s proposed ban of the apps WeChat and TikTok will go into effect Sunday, Sept. 20, to “safeguard the national security of the United States.” The order follows weeks of dealmaking over the video-sharing service TikTok. President Donald Trump has pressured the app’s Chinese owner to sell TikTok’s U.S. operations to a domestic company to satisfy U.S. concerns over TikTok’s data collection and related issues.

FTC Expands Merger Approval Lookbacks

The Federal Trade Commission is expanding its retrospective analysis into the impact of mergers it has approved over the past three-plus decades. That comes as both the FTC and Department of Justice are looking at whether Big Tech mergers that got pro forma sign-offs because they were not large enough to trigger antitrust reviews should have been captured by competition reviews.

‘Melrose Place’ Actress Headed Back To Prison For 2010 Crash

A former “Melrose Place” actress who has already served a prison sentence for a fatal 2010 drunken driving crash in New Jersey is headed back behind bars after a judge agreed with prosecutors Thursday that her initial sentence was too lenient. Saying Amy Locane still refuses to fully acknowledge her culpability in the crash that […]

U.S. Orders Al Jazeera Affiliate To Register As Foreign Agent

Comcast To SCOTUS: Overturn Viamedia Ruling

Comcast Corp. says the U.S. Supreme Court should step in and shut down a monopolization lawsuit over the TV ad placement market, arguing a federal appeals court improperly gave a green light to claims it illegally refused to do business with rival Viamedia Inc.

Alan Dershowitz Sues CNN For $300M Over Impeachment Defense

FCC Proposes $10M In Retrans Negotiation Fines

The FCC has voted to deny an appeal of its decision that eight station groups failed to negotiate retransmission consent in good faith and has further decided to propose fining each of the 18 stations at issue over $500,000 apiece. It is the first time the FCC has ever issued a forfeiture order for a failure to negotiate retransmission consent in good faith, as its rules require.

Trump Picks NTIA Adviser For O’Rielly FCC Seat

President Trump has announced his intention to nominate Nathan Simington to fill the seat being vacated by Michael O’Rielly, whose renomination was withdrawn by the president apparently because O’Rielly was critical of Trump’s effort to regulate social media. Simington is currently senior adviser at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

Public TV Fights FCC Datacasting Fees

Should public TV stations that use a portion of their spectrum to provide noncommercial data services have to pay fees for that service? That question is before the FCC in a rulemaking proceeding, with groups including PBS, America’s Public Television Stations and the Public Media Venture Group arguing that the fees are hindering development of ATSC 3.0 “broadcast internet” datacasting.

Pai Proposes Foreign Broadcast Content Disclosure Rules

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has circulated a notice of proposed rulemaking establishing new disclosure requirements for TV and radio content sponsored by foreign governments. “With some station content coming from the likes of China and Russia, it is time to update our rules and shed more sunlight on these practices,” he said, urging his colleagues to vote to approve his proposal ASAP.

FCC Revamps Hearing Process

The FCC is moving away from administrative hearings to a more document-heavy approach to testimony and evidence when called for. That came in a report and order voted Friday (Sept. 11) and released Monday (Sept. 14) that codifies the use of a written hearing process. In the past, such hearings — program carriage disputes have periodically been designated for hearing — have featured live testimony before an administrative law judge (the FCC has only one of those), cross examination and a decision that is only a recommendation to the commission.

Andrew Napolitano Accused Of Sexually Abusing Man In Exchange For Light Sentence

Anthem’s Asper Presses For Retrans Review

Leonard Asper, president & CEO of Anthem Sports & Entertainment, has sent a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai taking aim at the retransmission consent regime, prompted by the retrans disputes between Dish and Scripps (it was settled last week)  and Dish and Cox Media Group (Apollo).

FCC House Oversight Hearing Scheduled

The Democrat-controlled House Communications Subcommittee has scheduled an FCC oversight hearing for Sept. 17 and if its title, “Trump FCC: Four Years of Lost Opportunities,” is any indication, the FCC commissioners should prepare for some tough questions.

Jessica Rosenworcel Could Be Biden’s FCC Chair

She can’t talk about taking the position. But right now, she’s very focused on Trump’s Section 230 executive order and the state of the U.S. digital divide.

Former WWE Wrestlers’ Lawsuit Over Brain Damage Dismissed

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City agreed with a federal judge in Connecticut who tossed the lawsuits two years ago, saying many of the claims were frivolous or filed after the statute of limitations expired. Stamford, Conn.-based WWE denied the suit’s allegations.

STATION ADVISORY

FCC 2020 Regulatory Fees Due Sept. 25

The FCC released a Public Notice late Friday afternoon announcing the annual regulatory fees for 2020 are due by 11:59 p.m. ET on Sept. 25, and setting out the procedures for payment.

Justice To File Antitrust Charges Against Google

The Justice Department plans to bring an antitrust case against Google as soon as this month, after Attorney General William Barr overruled career lawyers who said they needed more time to build a strong case against one of the world’s wealthiest, most formidable technology companies, according to five people briefed on internal department conversations.

FCC Releases Order On Regulatory Fees

The FCC’s order on this year’s annual regulatory fees was released by the FCC this week. The commision rejected calls to forgive broadcast regulatory fees because of the economic fallout of the pandemic, noting that only Congress could pass such relief, as the FCC is required by law to collect fees sufficient to cover the costs of its operations.

Espionage Implication Roils Staff Of VOA

Since becoming the overseer of Voice of America in June, Michael Pack has fired subordinates, disbanded advisory boards and declined to renew the visas of foreign journalists who work under him. Political appointees frequently make personnel changes when they take on a new role. But Pack, who heads the U.S. Agency for Global Media, has offered a unique justification for his actions: He is rooting out potential spies. Now, a segment of staffers who had seethed quietly over Pack’s attempts to reshape the agencies are in open revolt over his unsupported accusations about “spies.”

Man Pleads Guilty To Sexual Battery After Slapping WSAV Reporter’s Backside

NAB: Tech Platforms Threaten Local Journalism

In comments to the House, the association’s CEO Gordon Smith says the digital giants’ dominance of advertising marketplace, control of online content put radio and TV broadcasters at competitive disadvantage.