JESSELL AT LARGE

Must We Feud Over Network Rep Rule Again?

To the dismay of their affiliates, CBS, Disney and Fox included in their “regulatory underbrush” wish list a request that the FCC do away with the 59-year-old network rep rule. Bad move. FCC Chairman Pai has presented broadcasting with a rare opportunity to get rid of some truly useless rules and to streamline others. The networks and the affiliates need to avoid mucking things up with an internecine fight.

Trump Decides It’s Time For Bannon To Go

The president has told aides that he’s removing his chief strategist. Steve Bannon has clashed for months with other senior West Wing advisers and members of the president’s family.

AT&T-TW Merger In ‘Advanced Stage’ At DOJ

The Wall Street Journal reports that the government review of AT&T Inc.’s $85 billion takeover of Time Warner Inc. has reached an advanced stage, people close to the situation said, a significant milestone in a deal that was closely watched for signs of how the Trump administration would view large mergers. WSJ subscribers can read the full story here.

BRAND CONNECTIONS

Fox CEO James Murdoch Rebukes Trump

James Murdoch, the CEO of 21st Century Fox, has spoken out against President Donald Trump’s controversial reaction to the violence in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend. In a personal letter sent to friends and associates urging them to support the Anti-Defamation League, Murdoch called the violence, in which one woman was killed and 19 others were injured after a car plowed into counter-protesters at a white nationalist rally, and Trump’s response to it a concern to “all of us as Americans and free people.”

Univision Loses Free Speech Argument

A judge rules that a biopic about the late singer Jenni Rivera wasn’t “routine investigative reporting,” and so, the Spanish network must face a lawsuit for interfering with a non-disclosure agreement.

DMA 90: CEDAR RAPIDS-WATERLOO-IOWA CITY-DUBUQUE, IA

Trial Date Set For KWWL Reporter

WATERLOO (AP) — A judge has scheduled trial for a television reporter accused of violating an order not to take courtroom video of “The Bachelor” star Chris Soules. Prosecutors are pursuing contempt of court proceedings against KWWL reporter Elizabeth Amanieh. Judge Fae Hoover Grinde set a bench trial for Sept. 28 in Independence. If convicted, […]

Hope Hicks To Be WH Comms Director

Hope Hicks will be named the new White House communications director. President Trump has offered the job to Hicks and she has accepted the position, according to a White House insider. Hicks has been close by Trump’s side since the early days of the campaign and is one of his most trusted staffers. She has been serving on the press team in more of a behind-the-scenes role as the director of strategic communications.

Dems Press For Answers About FCC-Sinclair

House Democrats are demanding answers from the FCC about its “favorable treatment” of Sinclair Broadcast Group, which has been cashing in on a series of agency moves that are easing restrictions on its control of television stations. In a 12-page letter sent to Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on Monday, Reps. Frank Pallone Jr. (N.J.), Mike Doyle (Pa.) and Diana DeGette (Colo.) seized on multiple media reports detailing how the agency has been delivering on Sinclair’s deregulatory wish list.

 

Murdoch To Trump: Fire Bannon

At a recent dinner at the White House with Jared Kushner and John Kelly, before President Trump decamped for a working vacation at his private golf club in Bedminster, N.J., the president listened while one of the guests, Rupert Murdoch, a founder of Fox News, said Steve Bannon had to go. Trump offered little pushback, according to a person familiar with the conversation, and vented his frustrations about Bannon. Murdoch is close to Kushner, who has been in open warfare with Bannon since the spring.

Tatel To Serve As FCC Acting General Counsel

Veteran FCC staffer Jennifer Tatel to oversee the commission’s chief litigation branch.

Preparing For Annual Regulatory Fee Filing

About this time each year, broadcasters and other entities regulated by the FCC prepare to find out the amount of their annual FCC regulatory fees. These fees are likely to be paid in September, before the Oct. 1 start of the new government fiscal year. Last week, the FCC added to its list of “items on circulation” an order to establish the specifics of this year’s regulatory fees, and to propose some additional changes to be considered next year.

FCC’s Brendan Carr Announces Staff

The new commissioner chooses three acting legal advisers and a confidential assistant. 

How Sinclair Is Ridding Itself Of Regulation

The Sinclair Broadcast Group and Ajit Pai, the chairman of the FCC, see eye-to-eye on the need to unleash television. Both are reaping big rewards.

FCC Extends Net Neutrality Comments Deadline

Journo Fires Back Against Bolling’s $50M Suit

Freelance journalist Yashar Ali is fighting back against a $50 million defamation lawsuit filed by recently suspended Fox News host Eric Bolling — and he has powerhouse litigator Patty Glaser in his corner. In a letter sent Friday to Bolling’s attorney Michael Bowe, and copied to Fox News’ EVP Dianne Brandi, Glaser demands the suit be dropped immediately.

Suit: FNC ‘Padded Paycheck’ To Contributor

As the investigation continues and threats of new lawsuits swirl in the allegations that Fox News Channel’s now suspended Eric Bolling sent lewd texts to colleagues, the outlet’s battle with Andrea Tantaros has taken another strange twist. Fighting back against moves by FNC and a former on-air contributor to toss the Ex-Outnumbered and The Five co-host’s federal case claiming “extremely high-tech” hacking and a “professional/career assassination,” Tantaros’ attorney is now throwing serious suspicion on the big bucks paid to one Pete Snyder by the cable newser.

Dispute Over Public Officials And Social Media

An emerging debate about whether elected officials violate people’s free speech rights by blocking them on social media is spreading across the U.S. as groups sue or warn politicians to stop the practice.

Starz Pledges Legal Action Against Leaker

Bolling Sues Journo For $50M Over Allegation

Recently suspended Fox News host Eric Bolling is suing journalist Yashar Ali for defamation and is seeking $50 million in damages after Ali’s HuffPost story claimed that Bolling sent “an unsolicited photo of male genitalia via text message to at least two colleagues at Fox Business and one colleague at Fox News.”

Comcast And Its ‘Hidden Fees’ Problem

The F word continues to haunt Comcast. The debate over the Philadelphia-based media giant’s controversial “broadcast” and “regional sports” fees — yes, that F — was drummed back up last week when a federal judge in California refused to dismiss a class-action lawsuit against Comcast.

Fox Declined To Settle Suits For $60 Million

The sexual harassment scandal at Fox News has cost its parent company 21st Century Fox tens of millions of dollars, untold reputational damage and some of its biggest personalities. And the drama is far from over. At a confidential mediation proceeding in late July, the lawyer Douglas H. Wigdor asked for more than $60 million to settle several disputes with Fox News and 21st Century Fox, according to two people familiar with the matter. The company would not accept Wigdor’s offer and no resolution was reached, said the people.

DOJ To Meet With Reporters On Subpoenas

Justice Department officials are slated to meet with a nonprofit journalism organization on Thursday as the administration moves to revisit its rules on whether to subpoena reporters who receive classified information. Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press will meet with individuals in the Justice Department’s public affairs office to discuss new subpoena guidelines.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders Newest WH Star

The new White House press secretary is more understated than her predecessor, Sean Spicer, but she still speaks for a president at war with the media.

NEWS ANALYSIS

There’s A Full House Again At The FCC

Last week, Congress confirmed the nominations of Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel for her return to the FCC, as well as new Commissioner Brendan Carr, a Republican. With these two expected to be sworn in in the very near future, it will complete the full house of three Republicans and two Democrats. With the background of the new commissioners, and the 3-2 Republican majority, is this a winning hand?

Fears Of Sinclair-Tribune ‘Excessive’ Power

A coalition of TV and media industry entities is urging the FCC to reject Sinclair Broadcast Group’s proposed $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media, arguing that the combination would “produce a TV station behemoth that is unprecedented in both local and national size and power.”

How Trump’s FCC Aided Sinclair’s Expansion

Sinclair Broadcast Group is expanding its conservative-leaning television empire into nearly three-quarters of American households — but its aggressive takeover of the airwaves wouldn’t have been possible without help from President Donald Trump’s chief at the FCC.Use of a regulatory loophole will allow Sinclair to reach 72% of U.S. households after buying Tribune’s stations.

Balaguer To FCC Legislative Affairs Dep. Dir.

The former associate director and senior legislative analyst in the commission’s Office of Legislative Affairs is picked by Ajit Pai to be deputy director of the Office of Legislative Affairs.

STATION ADVISORY

Kids Fine Shows FCC Still In Enforcement Biz

The FCC announced a consent decree with WMBC Newton, N.J., where the licensee,  Mountain Broadcasting, agreed to pay $17,500 for failing to identify “core” educational and informational programming directed to children with the required “E/I” symbol on the programming itself. This programming was, according to the consent decree, run on the station’s multicast streams — stations having an obligation to run at least 3 hours of educational and informational programming on each of its program streams.

Yelp To Beef Up Lobbying With DC Office

DOJ: Media Could Be Targeted Over Leaks

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Friday announced a government-wide crackdown on leakers, which will include a review of the Justice Department’s policies on subpoenas for media outlets that publish sensitive information.