Tech Critic Lina Khan Approved By Senate Committee For FTC

The Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday approved the nomination of Lina Khan to be a member of the Federal Trade Commission, clearing the way for a vote by the full Senate that would make her, a prominent critic of the tech giants, one of its most powerful regulators. The nomination of Khan, 32, has buoyed progressive hopes that President Biden will try to rein in Silicon Valley.

Rosenworcel Asks Broadcasters To Promote Broadband

Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel wants broadcasters to promote their over-the-top (broadband) competition, but in a good cause. In an OTT video speech to the National Association of Broadcasters virtual State Leadership Conference this week, Rosenworcel praised broadcasters as vital first informers, including providing key help for small businesses, encouraging vaccinations, and other pandemic-related help, then hit them up for a public interest favor.

The First Amendment’s Role In Broadcast And Online Regulation

Everyone knows that a fundamental principle of American democracy is the First Amendment — guaranteeing many freedoms to U.S. citizens including freedom of the press and freedom of speech.  It is one of those concepts that underlies our society, but is often mentioned only in passing, and rarely considered in practice.  Few people — even broadcasters and other media companies — have cause to think about First Amendment principles in their day-to-day operations.  The concepts embodied by the First Amendment are almost a given — except when they aren’t.

BRAND CONNECTIONS

NAB On White Spaces: No More Microsoft Hand-Outs For ‘Failing Experiment’

The National Association of Broadcasters took the gloves off in a recent meeting with FCC engineering staffers over TV white spaces — the use of broadcast spectrum for unlicensed uses like wireless broadband — calling it a failing experiment.

FCC OKs $7B+ Emergency Connectivity Fund

The FCC has unanimously approved the framework for the $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund for remote learning service and devices. Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel last week circulated the draft rules to the other commissioners Those rules do not allow for using the money to fund either the presumably immobile desktop computers or for hyper-mobile smart phones.

Washington Post Says US Secretly Obtained Reporters’ Records

The Trump Justice Department secretly seized the phone records of three Washington Post reporters who covered the federal investigation into ties between Russia and Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, the newspaper said Friday.

Aug. 11 Is The Next National EAS Test

Aug. 11 will be the date of the first national EAS test since before the pandemic began. Officials at the Federal Emergency Management Agency officially informed the FCC on May 4, that it plans its sixth national EAS test on that day. They also plan to conduct a nationwide Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) test concurrently.

New FCC Rules Spare Pubcasters From Foreign Sponsorship Disclosures

Public broadcasters are welcoming the FCC’s decision to rein in new rules governing foreign sponsorship of radio and TV broadcasts, which system leaders feared could be too burdensome for producers and stations. In a Report and Order released April 22, the FCC specified that its requirements for identifying program sponsorship by foreign governments will apply only to broadcasters that lease airtime to governmental entities. That largely excludes public broadcasters.

COMMENTARY BY DAVID ZURAWIK

Baltimore Files FCC Complaint Against WBFF

The Baltimore State’s Attorney filed the complaint against the Sinclair Fox affiliate, alleging a pattern of coverage of the state’s attorney’s office that is “blatantly slanted, dishonest, misleading, racist, and extremely dangerous.” It also claims the station “appears to be an intentional crusade” against Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby (above), “which given today’s politically charged and divisive environment, is extremely dangerous.” Sinclair defended WBFF’s reporting in a statement.

Josh Duggar Granted Release As He Awaits Child Porn Trial

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A federal judge on Wednesday allowed former reality TV star Josh Duggar to be released as he awaits trial on charges that he downloaded and possessed child pornography. Magistrate Judge Christy Comstock ordered Duggar, 33, confined to the home of family friends who have agreed to be his custodian during […]

Comcast Lawyer Shelita Stewart Returns To Her Old DC Firm, Hogan Lovells

Maine Abandons Fight For Law To Require A La Carte Cable Service

The Maine Attorney General’s Office has given up its fight to defend a law that would have required cable TV providers to give subscribers the option of purchasing access to individual cable channels rather than bundled packages. Maine lawmakers passed the first-of-its-kind measure in 2019, but cable companies quickly challenged it in federal court. They argued in part that the law violated their First Amendment rights by infringing on the “editorial discretion” of programmers and cable operators.

Former WZZM Reporter Sues For Gender Discrimination Related To COVID-19

Former Netflix Exec Convicted Of Taking ‘Pay-To-Play’ Bribes

A jury found Michael Kail, VP of internet technology at Netflix from 2012 to 2014, guilty of more than two dozen counts of felony fraud and money laundering for accepting cash, stock options and gifts from third-party vendors in exchange for contracts with the firm.

Newsmax Apologizes To Dominion Worker For False Allegations

The conservative news network, in a statement published on its website and to be read on TV, said that while it aired accusations of voter machine manipulation against Dominion Voting Systems Security Director Eric Coomer made by Donald Trump’s lawyers and supporters, it found no evidence that they were true.

Former Reality TV Star Duggar Arrested, Jailed

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Former reality TV star Josh Duggar was jailed in northwest Arkansas on Thursday after his arrest by federal authorities. It was unclear what charges he may face. Duggar was held at the Washington County jail after being arrested in the afternoon by U.S. marshals, according to the jail website. The Marshals […]

CNN Faces Project Veritas Lawsuit For Comments About Twitter Suspension

A months-long war of words between CNN and Project Veritas has escalated into an actual libel suit. On Tuesday, James O’Keefe’s operation filed a complaint in Georgia after a CNN anchor discussed Twitter’s suspension of Project Veritas and attempted to explain that “this is part of a much broader crackdown … by social media giants on accounts that are promoting misinformation.”

STATION ADVISORY

FCC’s New DTS Rules Take Effect May 24

Broadcasters Lay Out Case Against Locast

The fight between broadcasters (ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC) and Locast is nearing its day in court, but the lawyers representing the broadcasters (plaintiffs) have filed a request for summary judgement with the U.S. District Court in New York as they do not believe, and provide reasoning, as to why Locast is not a nonprofit entity and therefore cannot rebroadcast their signals.

Social Media Algorithms To Face Scrutiny As Lawmakers Look To Curb Misinformation

Usually, when social media executives are brought to testify in front of Congress, the hearings are centered on specific policies and types of content, misinfo and foreign interference, antitrust issues, and privacy concerns. What doesn’t quite get as much attention are the engines that drive these platforms: their algorithms. That’s what makes Tuesday’s Senate Judiciary hearing with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube different. The hearing is entirely focused on social media algorithms.

Fox News Says Smartmatic Lawsuit Is Threat To Press Freedoms

Fox News filed another response to Smartmatic’s $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit, contending that its on-air personalities were protected by the First Amendment as they amplified President Donald Trump’s unfounded allegations of massive election fraud following the 2020 presidential election. “Smartmatic strains to make this lawsuit seem like a garden-variety defamation suit rather than a glaring threat to core First Amendment freedoms,” the company’s legal team, led by Paul Clement of Kirkland & Ellis, said in a brief filed in New York Supreme Court. The legal team also is representing Fox Corp., the parent company of Fox News.

FCC Exploring New Wireless Mic Technology

The FCC is diving into Wireless Multi-Channel Audio Systems (WMAS), an emerging wireless microphone technology designed to enable more microphones per megahertz of spectrum. The commission has officially adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that is seeking public comment on whether WMAS technology should be granted a licensed basis in frequency bands where wireless mics are already authorized.

FTC Urged To Investigate Google’s Marketing Of Children’s Apps

Two Democratic lawmakers are urging the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether Google misleads parents by falsely representing that childrens’ apps on the Play Store comply with a federal privacy law. “New research suggests that Google misleadingly markets children’s apps as compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act … despite evidence that many of those apps illegally track children’s behavior and share their personal information without consent,” Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Kathy Castor said Wednesday in a letter to the agency.

FCC: Stations Must Label Broadcasts Sponsored By Foreign Governments

The FCC has voted to boost broadcasters’ disclosure requirements for programming on airtime leased by a foreign entity. The move comes amidst heightened focus on disinformation campaigns and despite some pushback from broadcasters, who argue the FCC is adding regs to an already overregulated service.

FCC Denies Gray Retrans Complaint Against Frontier Communications

The FCC has denied Gray Television’s retransmission consent complaint against Frontier Communications, saying Frontier did not violate the agency’s good-faith standards, its totality of circumstances test or its notice requirements.

Lifting Of TV Freeze At The FCC Brings Proposals For New Allotments

While the pandemic has focused much attention on streaming television services, at least some companies believe that over-the-air television still has a future, as evidenced by recent proposals to allocate new TV channels which, if adopted, could result in brand new TV stations.

A Global Tipping Point For Reining In Tech Has Arrived

Never before have so many countries, including China, moved with such vigor at the same time to limit the power of a single industry.

FCC Wants Comments On Loudness Rules

The FCC is seeking comment on whether it needs to update its rules limiting excessively loud commercials. That came in a request from the Media Bureau and following a letter to FCC acting chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel from Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), author of the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act.

COMMENTARY BY RICK KAPLAN

Let’s Not Overregulate Broadcasters Yet Again Because We’re Upset With Facebook

NAB General Counsel Rick Kaplan: “The FCC should not simply saddle broadcasters with this needless obligation — or rather, multiple needless obligations — because it can regulate broadcasters but not social media companies. That is regulation at its worst, and it should not make a return. If the commission can’t address a widespread problem that occurs almost exclusively on other platforms, why not ask Congress to step in with regulations that actually meet the problem rather than reflexively burdening over-the-air broadcasters? If anything, the Commission should be reticent to add burdens on one industry that are wildly asymmetrical to the regulation of other industries and that will barely address the actual problem.”

The Supreme Court’s Increasingly Dim View Of News Media

A comprehensive look at references to the press in justices’ opinions revealed “a marked and previously undocumented uptick in negative depictions.”