Free Spots Won’t Count Toward Lowest Unit Rate

The FCC has told broadcasters it doesn’t have to count free ads toward calculation of the lowest unit rate they are required to charge for political ads, but only if those are not “free spots” tied to an existing commercial contract.

What The $2 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Bill Means For The Entertainment Industry

FCC Open To Pandemic-Driven Waivers

In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the FCC’s Media Bureau has signaled it will look favorably on requests for waivers of its limits on the amount of programming a “brokered” station can air from a broadcast partner and not violate local TV ownership rules.

BRAND CONNECTIONS

Senate Passes $2.2T Coronavirus Package

The unanimous vote Wednesday came despite misgivings on both sides about whether it goes too far or not far enough and capped days of difficult negotiations as Washington confronted a national challenge unlike it has ever faced. The 880-page measure is the largest economic relief bill in U.S. history. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appeared somber and exhausted as he announced the vote — and he released senators from Washington until April 20, though he promised to recall them if needed.

Pro-Trump Group Goes After Liberal Ad

Lawyers for the largest outside group supporting President Trump’s reelection sent letters to television station managers in key battleground states on Wednesday demanding they stop running a new ad cut by a top Democratic super PAC. Legal counsel to America First Action, the pro-Trump group, sent a letter to station managers in Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania demanding a new ad from Priorities USA be taken off the air, arguing that it falsely gives the impression that Trump called the coronavirus a “hoax.”

April Regulatory Dates For Broadcasters

Life has been upended for most Americans due to the spread of the coronavirus and that tumult is, of course, reaching broadcasters as it reaches others throughout the country. With most FCC forms and filings being submitted electronically, and remote work already being routine for many FCC employees, there should be minimal disruption to broadcasters’ routine daily dealings with the commission. Here’s what’s on tap for next month.

Trump, Congress Agree On $2 Trillion Rescue Bill

The urgently needed pandemic response measure is the largest economic rescue measure in history and is intended as a weeks- or months-long patch for an economy spiraling into recession and a nation facing a potentially ghastly toll.

W.H. Wants More Power To Pull Press Passes

A Justice Department lawyer urged a federal appeals court Monday to give President Donald Trump’s White House broad leeway to pull journalists’ press passes for conduct the president or his aides deem unprofessional — even though opinions seem to differ widely about how to define that term in the Trump era.

SCOTUS Tosses Appeals Decision In Allen Case

The justices agreed unanimously that an appeals court applied the wrong legal standard in allowing business owner Byron Allen’s $20 billion suit against Comcast to go forward. Allen has a separate $10 billion suit against Charter Communications that the justices’ decision also affects.

FDIC Calls Out Newsmax Over ‘Misleading Ads’

Maryland Passes Digital Ad Tax

Facebook, Google and other online companies could face new taxes in Maryland, if a bill passed this week is signed by the governor. The measure, SB2, would impose new taxes on companies that glean than $100 million in digital ad revenue. Rates would vary from 2.5% to 10% of revenue attributable to Maryland, with the percentage tied to global revenue. The Association of National Advertisers is asking Gov. Larry Hogan to veto it.

NAB’s Smith: No Blackouts During Pandemic

NAB President Gordon Smith said broadcasters don’t want to see any retransmission consent service disruptions during the coronavirus pandemic. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has called for a retransmission consent quiet period to avoid TV station signals going off MVPDs.

Netflix Sued By Former Prosecutor Over Portrayal In ‘Central Park Five’ Miniseries

Judge Dismisses Kappell Lawsuits Against WHEC, Rochester Mayor

As Primaries Get Delayed, So Do Lowest Unit Rates

In recent days, we have seen presidential primaries delayed by the coronavirus in at least six states.  We expect that additional states will be looking at extensions in the coming days. As lowest unit rate windows had already opened in many of these states, the postponement will result in the presidential candidates getting another 45-day window for those low rates in advance of the rescheduled primary date.

FCC Provides Coronavirus-Related Relief For Repack Stations

Pai Commends Broadcasters’ Coronavirus Efforts

In a conference call, the FCC chairman also asks broadcasters to air public service announcements promoting social distancing.

Netflix Sued By Chipmaker Broadcom

Broadcom, a leading chipmaker for pay TV set-tops and other telecom CPE, is suing Netflix, alleging that the streaming service is violating eight of its patents related to data transfer and video playback.

THE PRICE POINT

KSFY-KDLT: A Model Of Top 4 Consolidation

Six months after the merger of two Top Four non-failing stations under Gray ownership, increased news offerings and wider signal coverage are among the results.

Trump To Meet With Broadcasters, Ad Council

A meeting with top network brass on the coronavirus situation is expected to take place on Monday, according to people familiar with the situation.

Judge Upholds Maine Law To Rescue Public Access Channels From Digital Wilderness

STATION ADVISORY

FCC Locks Door Over Coronavirus

The FCC announced Thursday afternoon that “effective immediately, [we] will no longer allow visitors into our facilities, absent special permission from the Office of Managing Director.”  However, that announcement, strange as it would be under normal circumstances, was of no particular importance. That’s because the same document noted that, starting tomorrow, the FCC is asking its staff to telework.

AT&T Questions Broadcaster Use Of TV Spectrum

Policymakers “need to take a fresh look at existing allocations of spectrum, including the allocation of spectrum to broadcasters” to determine if “that spectrum is still needed by the broadcast industry or if it is better used in other areas,” said Jim Ciconni, senior EVP of AT&T at a Washington think tank event.

Harvey Weinstein Sentenced To 23 Years

Both women that Weinstein was convicted of assaulting — a once-aspiring actress and a former TV and film production assistant — spoke in court Wednesday before Judge James Burke announced the sentence, confronting Weinstein again after their testimony helped seal his conviction at the landmark #MeToo trial.

John Orlando Launches Point52 Group

Veteran media and telecommunications executive John Orlando has founded Point52 Group, which will provide long-range strategic advice and counsel. Orlando has been on the front lines of advocacy for broadcasters and media companies. Most recently, he was part of the CBS senior management team as the executive vice president of global government affairs for CBS […]

House Subcommittee OKs Tax Certificate Bill

The House Communications Subcommittee has agreed on a bill, H.R. 3957, the “Expanding Broadcast Ownership Opportunities Act of 2019, that would restore the minority ownership tax certificate program as a way to help boost diversity in media ownership, but declined to include an incubator program as part of that effort. It must still be approved by the full Energy & Commerce Committee before it can get a vote in the full House.

Advertisers Press Judge To OK Facebook Settlement

None of the video advertisers who were notified about Facebook’s proposed $40 million class-action settlement over inflated video metrics have objected to the deal, class counsel says in papers filed Friday.

Quibi Faces Patent Infringement Claim

Short-form streaming-video service Quibi, which is preparing to launch next month, faces claims that one of its core tech features infringes on another company’s intellectual property, according to documents describing the dispute.

STATION ADVISORY

Must-Carry/Retrans Consent Notices Deadline

Notifications about cable carriage have now gone electronic — and contact people at stations and MVPDs for notices about carriage issues are now to be provided in the FCC-hosted online public inspection file and in the Cable Operations and Licensing System (COALS). Cable operators are required to upload the same information to COALS. This contact information must be uploaded no later than July 31 and must be kept up-to-date thereafter.

Trump Campaign Sues CNN For Defamation

The Trump campaign has filed yet another defamation lawsuit against a media outlet for an opinion piece, with CNN the target of the campaign’s latest lawsuit on Friday.