Trump Signs $2.2T Stimulus Legislation

Acting with unity and resolve unseen since the 9/11 attacks, Washington moved urgently to stem an economic free fall caused by widespread restrictions meant to slow the spread of the virus that have shuttered schools, closed businesses and brought American life in many places to a virtual standstill.

House Passes $2.2T Rescue Package

The House approved the sweeping measure by a voice vote, as strong majorities of both parties lined up behind the most colossal economic relief bill in the nation’s history.

Relief Bill Includes $75M For Public Broadcasters

The coronavirus bill specifies that CPB spend the funds to maintain programming and services and to preserve small and rural stations.

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

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.

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.

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.

Congressional Broadcasters Caucus Formed

Reps. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) and Brendan F. Boyle (D-Pa.) today announced the formation of the group, which will be a resource to educate members of Congress about broadcast-related issues and the importance of local radio and television stations to Americans. The mission of the caucus will be focused on discussing and solving issues of importance to the broadcast community

Walden: Hill Needs To Look At OTT Diversity

House Energy & Commerce Committee ranking member Greg Walden (R-Ore.) signaled Wednesday that the government needs to start looking at the employment and ownership diversity of over-the-top content providers.

Reporters Wary Of Impeachment Coverage Rules

A preliminary security plan would greatly limit the movement of credentialed media members. Journalists would be restricted to a designated area and could only speak to senators who approached them. Under normal conditions, credentialed journalists can informally approach lawmakers in the hallways or on the way to the elevator or the Senate subway.

This Man May Be Big Tech’s Biggest Threat

Democrat Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island, who leads the Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee, doesn’t just want to enforce the laws governing the tech industry. He wants to change them.

FCC Takes Some Lumps At Oversight Hearing

The FCC and its Republican chairman, Ajit Pai, took hits from both sides of the aisle in an oversight hearing in the House Communications Subcommittee Thursday (Dec. 5).

Nadler Offers Latest STELAR Renewal Effort

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) has introduced yet another version of a STELAR renewal bill, the “Satellite Television Community Protection and Promotion Act (STCPP) of 2019.” There are already Senate Commerce and House Energy & Commerce versions of a bill that would renew the satellite compulsory distant signal license and the mandate that broadcasters and MVPDs negotiate carriage deals with each other in good faith.

STELAR Reauthorization Pulled From Markup

According to multiple sources, the STAR Act stellar reauthorization bill is being pulled from today’s (Nov. 13) markup in the Senate Commerce Committee. Broadcasters oppose reauthorization, while MVPDs support it.

Graham Proposes STELAR Sunset Transition Plan

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which shares jurisdiction over the issue with Commerce, is putting a thumb on the scale for the sunset of the compulsory license that allows satellite providers to import distant network-affiliated TV signals into markets that lack them without having to negotiate individually for the license with broadcasters.

Hill Hammers Zuckerberg Over Controversies

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday fielded sharp criticism and tough questions about nearly all aspects of his company’s business practices at a hearing about Facebook’s new cryptocurrency project Libra. The aggressive questioning underlined how difficult it will be for the Libra project to move past the baggage of Facebook’s various controversies, which have angered lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

Senate Takes Long Look At STELAR

The Senate took a wide look and a deep dive into the issues surrounding STELAR renewal Wednesday in a hearing in the Senate Commerce Committee. Cable operators, who want the law renewed, had to be pleased by the first bit of info that surfaced.

Senators Want Portable Social Media Data

Three U.S. lawmakers active in tech issues will introduce a bill requiring social networks like Facebook to allow users to pack up their data and go elsewhere, Sen. Mark Warner’s office said in a statement on Tuesday. The senators, Republican Josh Hawley and Democrats Warner and Richard Blumenthal, are introducing the bill at a time when there is growing concern that Facebook, along with Alphabet’s Google, have become so powerful that smaller rivals are unable to lure away their users.

THE PRICE POINT

The Price Point | Archaic STELAR Must Be Allowed To Sunset

Hank Price: “Allowing STELAR to finally die a natural death at the end of this year means the free market system would return, bringing fairness along for good measure. Sunsetting STELAR means DirecTV would no longer have the right to retransmit stations without their permission.

Pai To Hill: Repack Is About 66% Over

The FCC’s repack of 1,000 TV stations into smaller spectrum quarters is almost two-thirds of the way to completion, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai told a Senate oversight hearing audience Thursday (Oct. 17), and has proven to be a smooth transition.

STATION ADVISORY

More Challenges For E-Cigarette Ads

Even though advertising for e-cigarettes is not currently illegal at the federal level, there are moves to change that position (including the announcement last month of an anticipated ban on flavored vaping products).

House Panel Seeks End To E-Cigarette Ads

A House of Representatives panel sent letters to four e-cigarette companies asking them to stop all print, broadcast and digital advertising of their products in the United States, the same day as market-leader Juul said it would pull its ads, the panel said on Thursday.

Newspaper Execs Lobby To Fight Big Tech

Executives from seven newspaper companies lobbied Capitol Hill this week to urge Congress to pass the “Journalism Competition and Preservation Act,” a bill that fights the dominance of tech companies like Google and Facebook in the digital content business.

NAB Launches 2019 Congressional PSAs

The public service program features 303 members of Congress and their family members.

RETRANS

Nexstar Stations Overstate Hill Blackout Letters

Retrans battles are known for their gamesmanship, but Nexstar’s characterization of some of the Hill pushback on the ongoing retrans impasse with AT&T’s DirecTV drew the ire of one local paper, some MVPD fans, and, ultimately, some corrections.

Congress Grills Big Tech On Competition, Money

A Tuesday afternoon panel of the House Judiciary Committee focused on whether it’s time for Congress to rein in these companies, which are among the largest on Earth by several measures. Central to that case is whether their business practices run afoul of century-old laws originally designed to combat railroad and oil monopolies.

Tech Titans Testify At House Hearing

The House Antitrust Subcommittee is holding the second of its two Big Tech hearings this week, hearing from the FAAG in FAANG, lacking only Netflix among the witness list and definitely meeting the criteria for the hearing’s title.

ATVA: Nexstar Blackout Argues For STELAR

The American Television Alliance (ATVA) is using the Nextar/DirecTV retrans impasse to pitch Congress on renewing STELAR, the satellite license law that also includes requiring the FCC to enforce good faith negotiations in retrans disputes.

Big Tech Execs Due On Capitol Hill Next Week

Executives from Amazon.com, Apple, Facebook and Alphabet’s Google will testify before a House of Representatives congressional committee next week in a hearing to discuss the tremendous market power wielded by online platforms.

RETRANS

More Legislators Call For Nexstar, AT&T Resolution

Legislators continued to turn up the heat in the ongoing retransmission consent battle between DirecTV and Nexstar Media Group, with representatives from seven states joining Sen. Richard Blumenthal on Tuesday in sending letters to DirecTV parent AT&T urging for an end to the blackout as it entered its fifth day.

House Approves Full Funding-Plus For Noncoms

The House has approved funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the independent agency that dispenses federal money for noncommercial media. The $495 million in funding, which was not only full funding but an additional $50 million, is for 2022. CPB is forward funded in an attempt to depoliticize the process.

Matsui Working On C-Band Compromise Bill

Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), co-chair of the Congressional Spectrum Caucus, said Wednesday she is working on a bill, the WIN 5G Act, that would offer a compromise approach to the thorny issue of freeing up C-band spectrum for wireless broadband.

Pai Wants Easier Path To Change Rules

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai put in a plug Wednesday for giving the FCC some fast track broadcast deregulatory authority. In a House Communications Subcommittee FCC oversight hearing, Pai said that the disconnect between a moving marketplace and the “stasis” of FCC rules was the fundamental issue the FCC had with its media ownership rules.

Hill Dems Seek Restart Of FCC Diversity Reporting

House Votes To Reinstate Net Neutrality

The Save the Internet Act passed the Democrat-controlled House 232-190 Wednesday, with only one Republican vote in favor. But top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that net neutrality is “dead on arrival in the Senate.”

House Legislators Agree: C-SPAN Is Indispensable

Democrats and Republicans may be divided over the Mueller report and health care and immigration and climate change and campaign finance and, well, you get the idea. But one thing they can agree on is that C-SPAN is something of a national treasure.

Senators Blast DirecTV For Underserving 12 DMAs

The lawmakers from Colorado and Wyoming say the satellite operator’s offering of distant signals from New York and Los Angeles in place of local affiliates in 12 small markets is “unacceptable” and “must end.”

 

Dems To Probe Trump/AT&T-TW Report

On a day defined by the launch of a new Democratic investigation into possible abuses of power by President Trump, The New Yorker magazine presented yet another line of potential inquiry, reporting that Trump pressured John Kelly and Gary Cohn to make sure that the Justice Department sued to block the AT&T-Time Warner deal. Now multiple Democratic lawmakers are vowing to, in the words of Sen. Chris Van Hollen, “get to the bottom of it.”

Former Rep. John Dingell Dies At 92

Former Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., the longest-serving member of Congress who played a key role in many pieces of landmark legislation, has died. He was one of broadcasters’ most stalwart defenders in Congress. He pushed to ensure broadcasters were treated fairly in the first DTV transition in 2009 and what would be the second one — the TV station repack — following the incentive auction. NAB CEO Gordon Smith said: “Broadcasters were honored to call Chairman Dingell a friend, and we will never forget his tenacity, good humor and belief in the benefits of free and local radio and television.”

House Democrats Demand FCC Documents

House Democrats are asking the FCC for documentation about its operations as they prepare to challenge the agency with their newfound oversight powers.