JEASELL AT LARGE

Rosenworcel, Clyburn Need To Thump Trump

I can almost understand Republican Chairman Ajit Pai’s muted response to Trump’s tweeted threats against NBC’s TV station licenses, but not those of Democratic Commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Mignon Clyburn. If what they’ve said so far reflects their passion for protecting media from Trump at the FCC, the networks and their licensed stations may be in a little trouble. 

Pai: FCC Can’t Pull Licenses Over Content

The top U.S. communications regulator on Tuesday declined to criticize President Donald Trump’s attacks on broadcasters. In his first public appearance since Trump tweeted that Comcast’s NBC and other broadcasters should lose their licenses for reporting “fake news,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai instead noted that his agency could not do what the president wanted.

FCC Weighs Revamping Ownership Rules

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has told an opponent of Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc.’s proposed purchase of Tribune Media that the agency may review media ownership rules before ruling on the $3.9 billion deal, something that could delay a decision on the merger.

Pai’s Bind: Defend Trump Or Free Speech

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is facing increasing pressure to distance himself from President Donald Trump’s threats against NBC — a course of action that would risk provoking the president’s Twitter-fueled wrath.

Reps Want Pai To Stick To Repack Deadline

A group of House members says the commission needs to not grant extensions to the 39-month timeline of the spectrum repack.

Senate Confirms FCC’s Pai To Second Term

Among those offering congratulations was NAB President Gordon Smith: “Chairman Pai understands broadcasting’s unique role as an indispensable communications medium, and we appreciate his effort to ease outdated regulatory burdens on local radio and TV. We share his vision for a vibrant communications future.”

Pai’s 5-year FCC Renomination Clears Senate

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s confirmation for a new five-year term appears to be all but sealed as the U.S. Senate voted 55 to 41 on Thursday to advance his nomination. His approval comes in the face of criticism by Democrats over his actions related to net neutrality and easing media ownership rules during his short tenure.

Pai Wants Apple To Activate iPhone FM Chips

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai today urged Apple Inc. to activate FM radio chips installed in iPhones that would allow Americans to get access to life-saving information when a natural disaster causes wireless networks to go down. NAB CEO Gordon Smith praised bipartisan backing for activating the chips. “We urge Apple to acknowledge the public safety benefits of local broadcasting on SmartPhones and to light up the FM chip,” he said.

Pai Names Diversity, Digital Committee

The group’s first meeting is scheduled to take place on Sept. 25 at FCC headquarters.

STATION ADVISORY

Pai Promises To Repeal A Rule A Month

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai spoke on Wednesday at the opening lunch at the NAB Radio Show in Austin, Texas, promising more moves to bring media regulation in line with the realities of the modern media marketplace. In his speech, the text of which is available here, the chairman promised several actions.

FCC’s Pai To Visit Texas Next Tuesday

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai will be in Texas on Tuesday, Sept. 5, to inspect the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey and meet with those engaged in recovery efforts. “Working in close coordination with the Department of Homeland Security, the FCC will do everything it can to help restore communications services after this terrible storm,” said Pai.  “I look forward to meeting those on the ground in Texas and seeing firsthand what needs to be done to make sure that those affected can get back on their feet as quickly as possible.”  

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.

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.

Senate Confirms Two FCC Nominees

The Senate on Thursday confirmed Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel and Republican Brendan Carr for seats on the FCC but did not yet reconfirm GOP Chairman Ajit Pai to another term.

Senate Panel Approves FCC Nominees

During a hearing on Wednesday, members of the Senate Commerce Committee voted to approve the confirmations of Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel and Republican Brendan Carr as FCC commissioners. Current Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s reconfirmation to the FCC was also approved by lawmakers. The trio’s confirmations will proceed to a Senate-wide vote

Senate Dems Take Aim at GOP FCC Noms

Democratic senators didn’t hold back during Wednesday morning’s FCC nomination hearing before the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, taking aim at Republican nominee Brendan Carr and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who is seeking reappointment. The same treatment didn’t extend to Democratic nominee Jessica Rosenworcel, who awaits confirmation for her second term as an FCC commissioner.

Pai: Trump Hasn’t Intervened On TW Merger

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai told lawmakers on Wednesday that President Trump has not tried to influence his agency’s consideration of the AT&T-Time Warner merger. In his reconfirmation hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee, Pai was repeatedly grilled about Trump’s attitude toward the press and whether it has affected the FCC.

Big Tech Heard On Save-Net-Neutrality Day

But it was all online. Mostly through blogs and social media, major internet-based companies like Facebook and Twitter took part Wednesday in a “Day of Action,” joining others in urging FCC Chairman Ajit Pai not to kill the Obama-era rules, which require internet providers to treat all web content the same.

Tina Pelkey Named Pai’s Press Secretary

Pelkey is a well traveled PR woman, who worked most recently for the Black Rock Group. Prior to that, she was with Weber Shandwick and the DCI Group. The Lenexa, Kan., native was also the press secretary for Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.).

JESSELL AT LARGE

Safe Is The Word For Trump’s FCC, Thankfully

The newly constituted FCC is conservative and deregulatory, but in a way you would expect had any of the establishment Republicans won the White House last November. When Trump won, I worried that he would stack the FCC with nut-job loyalists so that he could follow through with his threats against the media. Luckily, that didn’t happen.

FCC Vote Kicks Off Internet Regulation Battle

Undoing the net neutrality rules may be the biggest fight yet triggered by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. The tech industry, which sees net neutrality as necessary to innovation, is already pushing back by lobbying politicians, sending letters of protest to the agency and starting to rally supporters.

Pai: FCC To Review Colbert Joke Complaints

Ajit Pai said in a radio interview that his agency would determine if a joke told by the CBS latenight host warranted further action.

Senate Dems Urge FCC To Keep Net Neutrality

Sens. Brian Schatz and Cory Booker are urging FCC Chairman Ajit Pai not to go forward with his plan to repeal his agency’s net neutrality rules. The two Democrats wrote in a letter to Pai that taking away net neutrality would lead to an uproar like the one that followed the GOP-led dismantling of internet privacy rules last month.

Appeals Court Won’t Reconsider Net Neutrality

The decision means the rules favored by consumer groups but despised by telecom companies will remain in place for now. But the Trump administration has already signaled that it intends to scrap the Obama-era policy.

JESSELL AT LARGE

The Gleanings Of My NAB Week In Las Vegas

From speeches, sessions, cocktail parties and bars, I gained some insight that I can share with you on Chairman Pai’s deregulatory initiative, the repack’s reimbursement fund and deadline, an ATSC 3.0 fissure and the network-affiliate OTT agreements.

Pai Lays Out Attack On Net Neutrality Rules

The new FCC Chairman in a speech today said that he wants to ditch the legal basis for the net neutrality rules that regulated internet service as a utility, like phone service. He also wants to eliminate the FCC’s broad powers to monitor Verizon, AT&T and Comcast for bad behavior. He is seeking input on how to change rules barring broadband providers from blocking and slowing down websites and from charging internet companies for a “fast lane” to customers.

Internet Firms Prep For Net Neutrality Fight

Broadband companies hate the net neutrality rules, and they have an ally in new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who has repeatedly called the regulations a mistake. Pai could launch the process of unwinding the rules as early as today, according to reports.

NAB 2017

Pai Moves To Overhaul, ‘Modernize’ FCC Regs

NAB Show attendees liked what they heard from the new FCC chairman today, the introduction next month of an overarching review of the commission’s broadcasting, cable and satellite rules. “Broadcasting remains an indispensable part of America’s communications landscape. And under my chairmanship, broadcasting won’t be seen as a speed bump. We’ll want to hear which rules you think should be modified or repealed as part of this review, and why.”

Pai Set To Describe Net Neutrality Plans

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai intends to launch his reworking of the Obama-era net neutrality rules, according to sources familiar with the plan, setting up a showdown on an issue that has long pitted tech companies against internet providers. In a speech in Washington on Wednesday, Pai plans to discuss his vision for net neutrality — keeping open internet principles but getting rid of the utility-style regulatory framework approved by the agency’s previous Democratic majority.

Q&A

Smith On Broadcasters’ Agenda In Trump Era

Ahead of the NAB Show, which begins Saturday, the organization’s President-CEO Gordon Smith discusses working with new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and the next steps following the spectrum auction.

Pai Pitches Net Neutrality Reform In Calif.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai met with executives at Facebook, Cisco, Oracle, Intel and other major tech companies this week as the federal agency considers rolling back controversial net neutrality rules. He said he was looking for ideas how the FCC could change the more restrictive aspects of its net neutrality rules, while preserving parts of the regulation that ensure the internet remains open.

Ion’s Burgess Lauds Pai For Ownership Relief

Ion Media CEO Brandon Burgess commended FCC Chairman Ajit Pai for restoring the UHF discount in calculating compliance with the 39% national ownership cap — a move that will allow Ion to be sold in toto even though its coverage (64.8%) far exceeds the nominal cap. “This action allows small entrepreneurial and consumer-oriented companies like Ion Media to continue to succeed in a consolidating media world,” he said in an open letter.

Ajit Pai Moves To Roll Back Telecom Rules

The FCC chairman, who has been unwinding Obama-era regulatory efforts, is putting two items up for vote on Thursday that would empower telecom companies and broadcasters.

Pelosi, Pallone: Don’t Restore UHF Discount

The two House Democrats tell FCC Chairman Pai that restoring the UHF discount would further concentrate station ownership. They also say take a shot at Sinclair Broadcast Group.

NAB Reiterates Repack Concerns To Pai

In a meeting on Tuesday with the chairman, the association is worried about the 39-month deadline to move to new channel assignments as well as “the potentially significant impact the repack will have on non-repacked broadcasters.”

Pai Lays Out Plan To Roll Back Net Neutrality

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has briefed telecom trade associations on his plans to scale back net neutrality rules. Pai’s plans will apparently maintain the basic concept of net neutrality, but will move the enforcement of the rules back to the Federal Trade Commission, rather than the FCC.

Pai To Boost Priority Of Economic Analysis

The FCC chairman proposes creating an Office of Economics and Data “to restore the tradition of staff economists spending time thinking about the future and publishing in the present influential white papers that keep us from being stuck in the past. We need bright people who can focus on big-picture, out-of-the-box thinking.”

President Trump’s Tech Agenda Is Winning

Major pieces of President Donald Trump’s deregulation agenda have been held up, but for technology and communications policy, his approach is making big inroads. The rapid upheaval may be due to Trump-appointed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s long familiarity with the agency, where he has been a commissioner for five years, as well as the strong backing by the industry’s biggest players.

Pai Buries Hatchet With Indie Cable Operators

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called cable operators’ mission to build digital infrastructure “the challenge of our time” in a keynote appearance on Thursday’s closing day of the American Cable Association’s annual summit in Washington. “We don’t view you as an enemy,” Pai declared, “but rather someone we can work with to better enable our citizens to take advantage of digital opportunity.”

FCC To Restore U Discount, Up Cap To 78%

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai says he wants to restore the national ownership cap’s UHF discount at the FCC’s April 20 meeting and he has the votes to do it. After that, he says in a blog post, “we’ll launch a comprehensive review of the national ownership cap … later this year.” Effect of restoring the discount would be to double the current limit to 78% of TV homes.